Each year, judging occurs in two rounds:

Round 1

At the end of the academic semester, each instructor, in conjunction with the expert consultants who have worked with the classroom, will assess the student projects and pick one team (the finalist team) to go to the BDC Summit in June.

Round 2

At the BDC Summit, a jury of experts will assess the finalist team projects and select the overall winners. Click here to see all the BDC prizes.

  1. Concept

  2. Presentation

  3. Reflection

  4. Context

Judging criteria

Projects will be judged


Is the project original? Does it approach the chosen topic in an innovative way?


How effectively does the project respond to the topic the team posed?


A. Scientific

How well has the team demonstrated that trends in current science indicate that their vision will be possible?

B. Cultural

How deeply has the team considered whether biotech is the most appropriate response to this issue, as opposed to other technologies or social solutions? Has it considered how this vision fits into or replaces already-built cultural and material systems?

The Idea


Communicating Concepts


Oral presentation

Each team is expected to use a 15-minute presentation to tell the story of their project. This presentation should explain how the design functions, the subject it addresses, the science behind it, and how it may be adopted. The presentation and slides should be engaging while treating the project seriously.

How well has the team explained the design, the needs to which it responds, the science driving it, and how it may be adopted, and the process by which it arrived at the idea?

Visual rendering and physical model

Each team must create visual renderings that capture the look, functionality, and possible uses of their design. Teams should also create physical models or prototypes that demonstrate their design work.

How well do the visual rendering and physical models illustrate the vision, including its look, functionality, and uses?

Video (recommended)

We recommend that each team produce a 2-3 minute video describing their project. We ask that students be creative here.

Website (recommended)

As with the video, each team is urged to create a website that describes their design. A website is also a great place to highlight team members’ biographies and achievements.


How much experimentation and exploration has the team done and how well has this been communicated in the presentation? Did the team identify new questions during the process?

Self Appraisal

Has the team recognized strengths and weaknesses to its vision? Has it suggested ways to address them? What are next steps? Has the team recognized all the voices—experts and otherwise—necessary to inform the project?




A. Users/Nonusers/Scalability

How deeply has the team considered how the design changes the lives of those who use it and those who don't use it? These might include workers involved in its manufacture as well as those who don't have access to the design or can't afford to pay for it. Has the team considered how widely its design might be used, including among different genders, races, and socioeconomic groups?

B. Ethics

How well has the team considered ethics imbued in their vision? Does its vision challenge or reaffirm the ethics of those for whom it’s meant and/or those by which it was created?



A. Environmental Impact

How deeply has the team considered its design's interaction with living environments? How might the project change the living environment? For good, bad, both?

B. Efficiency/Life Cycle

How well does the project consider the use of resources (e.g. water, feedstocks, energy, labor, etc.)? Has the team considered their design’s entire life cycle? How is it sourced? Can it be recycled or reused in other ways?


Has the team considered the potential negative effects of its vision?

A. Safety

Has the team accounted for possible harm to human health and the living environment associated with its product or process malfunctioning? Has the team changed their design to mitigate these risks?

B. Dual use

In the hands of someone with ill intent, any design can be used nefariously. Has the team considered how their design might be harnessed for ill intent? Has the team considered how its design could be negatively exploited, and how to mitigate that risk?