Kshitij Hasamnis, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, Adhiraj Shinde, a graduate student in textile engineering and Hitesh Manglani, a graduate student in textile engineering, pitch their design to a group of judges at the 2019 Make-A-Thon in Hunt Library on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. Make-A-Thon is a competition where teams have 48 hours to plan, design and build a product that addresses an environmental challenge. A panel of judges then evaluates each team and selects a winner.

NC State University’s Sustainability Office hosts its seventh annual Make-A-Thon from Jan. 27 to 30. Those competing will produce innovative solutions for sustainability challenges of their choice — anything from public transportation to composting and everything in between. The three teams with the best solutions receive monetary prizes up to $2,000.

This year, five NC State organizations host the Make-A-Thon: the Engineering Village, the EcoVillage, the Albright Entrepreneurs Village, University Libraries and the University Sustainability Office. University Libraries is also a sponsor this year, alongside NC State Entrepreneurship and the NC State Division of Academic and Student Affairs.

“It’s essentially a 72-hour, weekend-long challenge for people who care about impactful ideas and want to rapidly prototype and bring something into the world,” said Haley Huie, the director of experiential learning for NC State Entrepreneurship. “They want to work in a team. That’s the real essence of the Make-A-Thon experience.”

Last year’s grand prize went to a team that created an app to connect grocery stores with food-based charities in order to reduce food waste. 

The 2021 Make-A-Thon was virtual due to the pandemic, and this year is no different. No in-person events are required, although teams have the opportunity to visit the D.H. Hill or Hunt Libraries on Jan. 27 to kick off the weekend by picking up goody bags. D.H. Hill Makerspace and Entrepreneurship Garage will also be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday for teams to pop in and ask questions.

“We have pivoted and most things are happening virtually this year,” Huie said. “We created things like orientation videos to make sure participants know what’s going on. We are certainly available over email, chat or however students want to reach out to us with questions they may have.”

Rose Xiao, a third-year studying computer science, is competing in the Make-A-Thon for the first time this year. Although she comes in with relatively little knowledge of the competition itself, she said she was “really stoked to join.”

“I think the concept itself was really awesome,” Xiao said. “It’s inviting all the students with different majors and different levels of experience to go in and kind of try things out [and get] their creation and their ideas out there. I would say, of course, the prizes are a good bonus.”

According to Huie, Make-A-Thon is meant to be experienced as a weekend of fun. Despite the pressure to come up with the most innovative solutions, Huie said students should enjoy meeting like-minded peers, picking up entrepreneurial skills and taking advantage of the connected programs that occur after Make-A-Thon has wrapped up. 

“This is usually taking place before you’re hitting midterms or things are getting crazy in classes,” Huie said. “It’s really nice to be able to focus on something like this that’s got bookends. It’s going to be one long weekend of innovation.”

Less than a week from now, students will be chipping away at possibly the next sustainability invention to come out of NC State. 

“It’s mostly about having fun, because I [wasn’t] able to participate in any NC State-hosted events last semester,” Xiao said. “I think my end goal is just to have fun, especially with having fun with my teammates and getting to know them even better.”

Managing Editor

I am a third-year student studying biology with a concentration in technical and scientific communication. I joined Technician as a correspondent in August 2020, and I am currently the Managing Editor.