Judging will happen in two rounds: At the end of the academic semester, each design professor, in conjunction with the expert consultants who have worked with her class, will assess her students' projects and pick one team to go to the Biodesign Summit in June.

At the Biodesign Summit, a jury of experts will assess the attending teams' projects and presentations and select the overall winners.

  1. Concept

  2. Presentation

  3. Cultural and Environmental Context

Judging criteria

Projects will be judged


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


How gracefully and powerfully does the project respond to the chosen problem or issue? How effectively does the designed product or process communicate values that go beyond its formal and functional qualities?


How well does this design work to solve a real-world problem or enhance some aspect of culture?

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 did the team explain how the design works, the needs that it meets, 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 does the visual rendering and physical models illustrate the vision, including its look, functionality, and possible uses?

Video (recommended)

We recommend that each team produce a 2-3 minute video describing their project. We ask that students be creative here. For example, they might make an advertisement for their product; they might describe the team’s personal journey in coming up with their design; they might tell a fictional history of their product; they might use the design as a prop in a short narrative video. We encourage speculative ideas.


Website (recommended)

As with the video, each team is urged to create a website that describes their design, acts as an advertisement, or hosts a blog that records their ideas as they develop. A website is also a great place to highlight team members’ biographies and achievements.



Has the team considered the ways in which their project can both positively and negatively impact humans and their environment?

A. Target Audience

How well has the team considered its users? For example, is the project meant for an entire global system, or is it designed for a specific group? How well has the team researched this group?

B. Users

How well has the team considered the impacts on the lives of those who use it?

C. Nonusers

How well has the team considered the impacts on the lives of those who don’t use it? As an example, this might include workers involved in its manufacture, or those who can't afford to pay for a product.

C. Ethics and Cultural Suitability

Has the team considered ways in which its vision fits with the moral principles of the cultures meant to use it?



Can the project be achieved with methods that do not deplete or destroy natural resources?

A. Environmental Impact

How does the team intend their design to interact with living environments? How deeply has the team considered the ways in which the project may change the living environment?

B. Efficiency

Has the team considered issues of efficiency? How well does the project consider the use of resources (e.g. water, feedstocks, energy, labor, etc.)?

C. Life Cycle

Has the team considered their design’s entire life cycle? How 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?


Banner image: Root Bridges of Meghalaya