Makeathon – Friday April 12th, 5pm – Sunday April 14th, 2pmDetailed Schedule

Vishal Sachdev’s Digital Making Seminar students , some junior industrial design students from Deana McDonagh and Jim Kendall‘s studio class as well as Jeff Ginger‘s Makerspace class will be participating in this weekend makeathon. Unlike other such weekend events, where people come together and expect to create a solution, we know that product design does not happen on a weekend. The students will have done a lot of preparation for this event ahead of time, developing product ideas and meeting with their mentors. You can check out a brief update of what went on here! There was also some local news coverage of the event by both WCIA and WAND.

Some of our Team/Partners!

Dr. Vishal Sachdev is a faculty in the GIES College of business, co-founder and director of the first business school based 3D printing lab, Illinois MakerLab and leads the Digital Making Seminar course. Dr. Deana McDonagh, who is an Empathic Design Research Strategist. Her research focuses on enhancing quality of life for all through more intuitive and meaningful products, leading to emotional sustainability. We also have Jim Kendall, who is a new member of the faculty at the University, coming from 15 years of designing at Whirlpool. Dr. Jeff Ginger is working with us as well. He is the Director of the CU Community Fab Lab and knows all about the maker spaces on campus and how to build things! Last but certainly not least is Adam Bleakney, who is helping inspire and mentor the Digital Making Seminar Students and helping us collaborate with the Disability Resources and Educational Resources center.

Clark-Lindsey is also partnering with us and is a gold sponsor, and some of our mentors from DRES are going to help out. They will both be advising the students on their projects as well as providing ideas of challenges that can be overcome with new designs.

The CU Fablab will be the focal point of the makeathon. Turner Hall and the Architecture annex nearby will have team workspaces and displays. They are letting us use some of the amazing resources they have available so the students can make high quality prototypes of their projects.

The Make-a-thon is being coordinated with the help of the wonderful folks from Milestone Studio Labs. Their work spans a range of areas, from education, to events, to consulting, with a focus on the disabilities sector – assistive technologies, accessibility, and employment for people living with disabilities. They are helping us organize this great event in addition to meeting with the students of the Digital Making Seminar and giving them feedback on their projects.

Here are some mentors that will be assisting with the Make-a-ton and the student projects:

These are our expert users! By looking at their needs and figuring out ways to make daily life easier, our students have been able to come up with some amazing project ideas! These mentors will also be assisting in the make-a-thon, giving students feedback and encouragement.

Ryan is a graduate of the College of Media and hosts a weekly radio show called Rollin Illini during which he covers disability on campus. He is also a beat writer for the International Paralympic Committee. 

Arielle is an alum and owner of a successful start-up company called Ingenium. Ingenium builds custom 3D printed gloves for a broad range of athletes, grassroots to elite. Ingenium gloves are used across the world. 

Ron is an alum of the wheelchair athletics program here at UIUC from the 70s and a very creative and innovative individual. Among the many interesting things in which Ron has been a part, he was involved in the very early development of sports wheelchairs. 

Adam is the head coach of the wheelchair track team and an alum of the University of Illinois. He is also a Paralympian and has competed in several marathons as well as other races around the world.

Jenna is a senior majoring in Kinesiology and a member of the wheelchair track team. She is very active across campus including serving as an RA at Newman Hall. 

Make-a-thon Event Information

This year’s make-a-thon we are focusing on accessibility. The goal is for the students to create products inspired by those that are differently abled and the challenges that they face. Through this we can improve lives everywhere! Check out our blog to see what the students are learning and making right now.

We expect 16-18 teams with about 70 students in all who will participate in this event from the three courses mentioned above, and might even have some teams who submit ideas to the Health Makerlab Pitch competition.

Our Judges panel for this makeathon has come together, and we are looking forward to an exciting event.

Pat Malik (Director- DRES)
Rachel Switzsky (Director- Siebel Center of Design)
Steven Michael (Co Director Hoeft T&M Program and Professor- GIES)
Alan Mette (Director and Professor- Art + Design)


We are thankful for our sponsors to help bring this event together. Siebel Center for Design is an overall sponsor for the sequence of courses.

OVERALL Sponsors

The Siebel Center for Design has sponsored the course series and more

Social Innovation at Illinois is helping to bring in the amazing Milestone Labs for the event.


AARP -Tech Nest at Research Park

Ultimaker – sponsoring a 3d Printer as a prize for the Makeathon, an Ultimaker Original + kit 

GOLD Sponsors

Clark-Lindsey – also a partner, helping bring need knowers into the classroom

SILVER Sponsors

The School of Art and Design here at UIUC