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KCAD and Wege Foundation Seek Participants for First Wege Prize

GRAND RAPIDS –The brightest collegiate minds in West Michigan will gather to solve a truly wicked problem.

Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design and The Wege Foundation announced a new, annual, transdisciplinary design competition that gives teams of five students a chance to work collaboratively, use design thinking principles and win the Wege Prize – $30,000 in total cash prizes – to show the world how the future of problem solving will look.

This year’s wicked problem: “How can we create a circular economy?” A circular economy is a tightly-looped, restorative economic cycle where resources can be re-adapted for use without limiting the desirability of products or the loss of revenue. Continued reliance on the current model of extract-manufacture-dispose, which is contingent upon vast reserves of expendable resources and an environment that can absorb the waste, could mean humanity will never inhabit a sustainable planet. The challenge is to design a product, service or business model that can function and help create a paradigm shift toward a circular economic model. Teams have until Feb. 16, 2014 to develop a solution.

Wege PrizeTo participate on a team, and compete for the Wege Prize, an entrant must be a full-time undergraduate student (12-plus credits/semester). All teams must consist of five students from at least two different educational institutions and represent three or more different academic disciplines. Entrants are encouraged to find teammates, create a team and visit for competition details and registration. Registration is underway, and teams must be registered, in full, no later than Sunday, Dec. 1.

Solutions will be judged on cogency, process, impact and illustration. What have you designed? How did you arrive at your solution? Have you considered all the necessary factors of the wicked problem? Can your solution be realistically implemented on a large scale? Can you communicate your solution visually in a way that will convince others of its worth? These are among the questions that should come up during the project.

All submissions will be initially judged by a review panel. The panel will select the top five solutions to advance in the competition. The five entries will be displayed at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, in Grand Rapids, and online at The public will view the entries and cast votes for the one that impresses them the most. Finalists will present their solutions to a panel of guest judges who will examine the solutions and name the winners of the first-and second-place awards.