Design Lab Launches City-Wide Civic Design Challenge

Calling all entrepreneurs, designers, engineers and problem solvers!

Register for the Kickoff and Information Session on Sept 21
Register for the 2017 D4SD Civic Design Challenge on Sept 22-23

In a combined effort to solve complex city problems through human-centered design and crowdsourcing, the University of California San Diego Design Lab has launched a city-wide civic design challenge called Design for San Diego (D4SD) with support from the City of San DiegoSCALE SD, the Design Forward Alliance, and the National Science Foundation.

Michèle Morris, Associate Director of The Design Lab and Design Forward founder stated that “The Design Lab is committed to applying human-centered design in real world contexts and integrating our efforts with existing civic and community initiatives in San Diego and beyond. D4SD is a fantastic platform on which to demonstrate design’s essential place in the innovation ecosystem and the value it can bring to complex sociotechnical issues like mobility. We are thrilled to be working with our regional and national partners on this initiative.”

This year’s D4SD challenge focuses on urban mobility. We all have places to go and people to see. So whether you’re traveling by car, bike, train, bus, boat or foot for work or play, mobility significantly affects millions of city goers everyday. Join D4SD for an unique opportunity to compete and collaborate with other city innovators to help solve the most pressing mobility-related issues facing our city. Participants will have opportunities to work and learn from UC San Diego Design Lab educators and the City of San Diego data science team to use their Open Data portal ( The best solutions will earn cash prizes and private one-on-one meetings with city leaders and startup investors.

Steven Dow, assistant professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego who is directing D4SD as part of  the Qualcomm Institute-based Design Lab, said “D4SD presents a unique educational opportunity, both for university students and for the city’s residents – to gain hands-on experience with real-world issues and participate in San Diego’s innovation community.”

“A class that Dow taught at UC San Diego in the Spring quarter of 2017 helped identify the challenge topics, with students surveying San Diegans, attending meetups with city and community leaders, and conducting targeted interviews. Dow will also teach a Civic Design class this Fall, along with Postdoctoral Fellow Narges Mahyar and Research Scientist Colleen Emmenegger.  These students will take part in the challenge alongside the public signing up through the website. Mahyar said, “The course really seeks to blur the boundary between university students, residents, civic leaders, professional designers, and entrepreneurs.”

On September 21, join Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla and design icon and Design Lab Director and founder Don Norman for the kick-off and hackathon hosted by SCALE SD, the city’s newest smart-city accelerator, at Downtown Works.

On September 22-23, join other innovators to participate in design sprints, find teammates, build prototypes and win prizes. The final deadline for the challenge is Oct 24.

The official schedule for the D4SD Challenge is:

  • Thursday, September 21, 201710am – 1pm
    Kick-Off & Information Session
    Introduction by Mayor Faulconer, Chancellor Khosla & Don Norman
  • Friday, September 22, 2017:  5:30pm – all night
    D4SD Challenge: Design Sprint & Hackathon – Day 1
    Learn about the challenges, brainstorm, form teams & build prototypes
  • Saturday, September 23, 2017:  all day – 9pm
    D4SD Challenge: Design Sprint & Hackathon – Day 2
    Present prototypes, win prizes & party

Learn more at

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