Design Contest Description


The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has created a design contest for the state’s high school students working in FABlabs.  WEDC is seeking designs and prototypes of gifts, with the winning design to be utilized by State of Wisconsin leaders in their official capacity. The need for gifts often arises when state officials meet with international VIPs, whether they are from the government or the private sector. The goal of this contest is for students to use the Engineering Design Process that represents the state of Wisconsin in some capacity.


Submissions must be made by a school with a fab lab that received WEDC Fab Lab Grant funding. Schools may submit multiple products from multiple teams. Eligible schools can work with any other school in the state, even non-awarded schools.

Interested schools must declare their intention to participate by January 17, 2020.  Email to indicate your interest. 


Final submission deadline is February 14, 2020.

Background & Purpose of Contest


WEDC frequently meets with senior officials from foreign governments and businesses where gift-giving is a part of the standard protocol. We also support the Offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor when they have a need to provide gifts to foreign delegations visiting Wisconsin. It is important to utilize gifts that reflect our state and its attributes. In planning for the future, our goal is to find a Wisconsin-designed and manufactured gift to be a default option for our needs.

This contest asks Wisconsin schools, districts, and consortia that are Fab Labs Grant recipients to use their skills and the tools available to them in fab labs to design and create gifts to be given by leaders from the State of Wisconsin in their official capacity. 

There are numerous reasons for holding a contest, but most important is that WEDC recognizes the creativity of Wisconsin’s students and believes in the ability of fab labs to empower them to bring shape to their ideas.

Deadline and Method of Submission


Interested schools must declare their intention to participate by January 17, 2020, by emailing Please include “intent to submit” in the subject line of your email. 

Once we receive your intent to submit, you will be given further directions. Deadline for submissions is February 14, 2020. Physical prototypes should be mailed to Attention: Patrick Roetker, WEDC, 201 W. Washington Ave., Fl. 6, Madison, WI 53703.  


Submissions must be made by a school with a fab lab that received WEDC Fab Lab Grant funding. Schools may submit multiple products from multiple teams. Eligible schools can work with any other school in the state, even non-awarded schools.

Note that submitted project designs may be published on the WiFAB site upon completion. 

Design Criteria

  • Gift designs should follow the theme of a Cell Phone Holder—no other designs will be judged.

  • Hold a variety of cell phone styles/sizes for viewing and charging in an office environment.

  • Must be mounted non-permanently (i.e. desktop, wall-mounted, mounted on a computer screen, etc. without the use of screws or permanent adhesives).

  • Durable and able to travel well.

  • Should not be breakable (no glass items will be accepted)

  • Keep item weight as minimal as possible

  • Able to be produced in larger quantities from a set of instructions – submission of digital files will be a requirement.

  • 3D printers may be used in the design process, but it should not be a requirement for actual production.

  • Made from materials representing the state.

  • Please consider costs (including labor production time) when selecting materials to be used. Cost should be within $10-$15.00.


Design Elements

  • The most important design requirement is that the cell phone holder should prominently include a “Wisconsin Theme” in the design so that gift recipients will remember the gift’s origin.

  • The design should be appropriate for display and use in a professional setting.

  • The design should include elements that represent the state’s positive economic, cultural, historic or other attributes.

    WEDC has identified six industry clusters of focus in the State of Wisconsin. Designs are not required to showcase these industries. Instead, they should give a better idea of the economy of the state and they can be used as inspiration. 

    The six industry clusters are:

    • Aerospace – though Wisconsin does not produce planes, it is heavily involved in the supply chain of manufacturers such as Boeing.

    • Biohealth – the University System, and UW Madison more specifically, attract more than $1 billion annually in research funding, with a large amount going towards science research.

    • Energy, power, and control – this refers to not just the generation and transmission of electricity, but also to things like automated controls and energy management.

    • Food and beverage – Wisconsin is not only a food producer, but also a processor (turning raw agricultural products into food products). In addition, we have a high concentration of food processing equipment manufacturing—we make the machines that make and package food.

    • Manufacturing – Wisconsin has the second highest manufacturing employment concentration in the nation.

    • Freshwater technology – this is a global priority and Wisconsin is recognized around the world for the cutting-edge work being done here. Some sort of imagery of water would be a welcome inclusion. (i.e. the Great Lakes are known globally and would be a worthy inclusion).

  • You are invited to incorporate text into your design that you feel conveys Wisconsin’s core identity and value as a business, career and lifestyle destination. Keep in mind, however, that such a message would need to be inclusive of the state’s geographic and economic diversity. The state’s motto, “Forward,” is a suitable message to include in your design but is not required. Reference to sports teams located in the state is not appropriate messaging for this gift.

  • Though Wisconsin’s agricultural heritage and pastoral landscapes are widely recognized, keep in mind the large amount of manufacturing done in the state.

Design Exclusions

  • Do not include features that are not universally recognizable (for example: though the Packers are beloved across the state, their brand awareness is not global)

  • Do not violate copyrights (e.g. the Packers logo or other corporate branding).

  • Do not include features that would render the design obsolete over time (for example: do not display the current year).

Timeline and Winner Selection

  • February 14 – Submission of design portfolio through WIFAB web portal, submission of the physical prototype to WEDC.

  • February 17 – Judging begins for all submissions.

  • February 24 – Semi-finalists announced to all competition participants.

  • March 9 - In-person presentations. 

  • March 16 - Winner is announced.

    One design will be chosen to be produced and used by the State of Wisconsin. The second and third place designs will also be announced.  The school with the winning design will receive a plaque/trophy along with a public announcement by WEDC.