Well, we just had a whirlwind tour visiting all 8 of our DFA studios! From UCLA to Dartmouth, students are plugging away at tackling the most complex challenges of our time. So what have the teams been up to? 170 students from campuses throughout the country have been hard at work establishing local partnerships and understanding community needs. They’ve started out with broad themes such as health or homelessness and been doing deep dives to understand where design can make an impact. We were honored to have special guests join us at each location from local designers to department heads and deans, each reviewer and mentor has helped these projects forward. With all the work that has been generated, we reminded ourselves that teams are working on this in their free time and said, “wow.” As one MBA student, Aviva Altmann from UCLA shared,

 I wish I could do Design for America all the time. But most of all, I wish every student knew this was an option.   



The goal of fall term was to truly understand what problems to solve for, establish local partnerships with experts in the field and talk to users. In the coming term, teams will be moving forward into ideation and prototyping to see which ideas stick and can make a real impact. Check out a few of the presentations and a list of all the challenges they are tackling below.


  • Environment- E-waste- How can we make it easy and desirable for customers to recycle their consumer products?
  • Education- Middle School- How can we improve teacher care with the current student: teacher ratio? How might technology and cell-phones play a role?
  • Health- How can we prevent the overconsumption of food among students?
  • Environment- Campus waste- How can we reduce wasted items on campus such as furniture or paper?


  • Homelessness- How can we increase the safety of homeless individuals’ belongings?
  • Health- Waiting rooms- How can we prevent the spread of germs within a hospital’s children’s waiting room?
  • Health- How can we ensure that children and the elderly maintain their medication regimes?
  • Environment- How can we make it easy for students to only take food from cafeteria that they know will match their tastes?


  • Education- Autism- How can we help enable severely autistic children to gain independence through self-identifying their needs? Prezi Here!
  • Health- Alzheimers- How can we increase mobility for adults with alzhiemers and alleviate pressure from their care-takers? Prezi Here! 
  • Homelessness- How can we either: increase safety for those living in homelessness. OR increase hygienic care for those living in homelessness while providing comfort and well being.


  • Health- Dental- How can we improve dental health for pregnant women?
  • Education- Stress- How can we reduce stress for over-achieving children and prevent long-term anxiety?
  • Health- Veterans- How can we make it easier for veterans to attend college?


  • Health- Lead Poisoning- How can we prevent children from eating paint chips in the window sill?
  • Education- Learning Disabilities- Dyslexia- How can we provide better services for adults with dyslexia in dealing with sequential activities such as cooking, banking or navigation?
  • Health- Healthy Food Access- How can we make shopping for healthy food and healthy recipes easier while in a corner store?


  • Environment- Recycling- How can we take out the guess work of determining whether or not a bag of recycling is contaminated?
  • Health- Sex Education- How can we make buying condoms easier and less anxiety provoking for teens?
  • Community Forum- How can we provide a platform for our community to share ideas and concerns facing our campus?


  • Health- Mental Health- How can we improve the mental health of students on campus?
  • Health- Food- How can we make it easier for cafeteria staff to serve salad and healthy food options?

Continued Projects:

  • Fruit Buddi- Encouraging and rewarding healthy snack choices in the grocery store.
  • Bullseye- Making diabetes devices simpler and easier to use.
  • Helmlock- Making it more convenient to wear a helmet.
  • I Helmet For- Making it cool to wear helmets.
  • BottleShare- Reducing plastic waste by making reusable water bottles more convenient
  • Jerry the Bear- Improving the lives of children with diabetes.
  • Right Angle- Reducing water use in cafeteria by nearly HALF!
  • Numat- Eliminating the spread of fungal foot infections in shelter showers.

New Projects:

  • Health- How can rehabilitation patients know when their devices are working and therefore encourage them to keep going?
  • Environment- Vampire waste- How can we make it easier to unplug electronic devices?
  • Environment- Food waste- How can we reduce campus food waste?