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Clean Beaches Design Challenge


Clean Beaches Design Challenge
SOLVE and the Collaborative Design program of the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) have teamed up to create a design challenge related to cleaning tsunami and other debris from Oregon beaches. The Clean Beaches Design Challenge is a competition for college student teams interested in tackling a complex problem with scientific, political and social dimensions. During the course of this competition students will learn valuable employment and life skills while meeting and networking with students from other schools from around the world.

The competition is designed to promote the practical, integrative and exciting aspects of science, technology, engineering, art, policy, education, organization, politics, psychology and community when applied to the real world environmental problems facing our society. Research, creativity, innovation, collaboration and systems thinking are integral ingredients and key to the successful design for complex problem interventions. Through this competition the teams learn about the science of recycling and repurposing debris and will better understand the work of professionals in that field.

The final judging event day will allow pre-selected teams to present their designs, network with other teams as well as receive feedback and ideas from the judges.

Taken by Laura DeVito


The Problem
The tragic 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan had, and continues to have, a wide impact. The west coast of North America from California to Alaska has begun receiving an estimated 1.5 million pounds of tsunami debris which is expected to continue to wash ashore for the next five years.  This is in addition to the 100 million tons swirling in the North Pacific Gyre. Oregon is especially vulnerable due to the ocean currents coming across the Pacific that turn south at the Oregon/Washington border.The debris ranges in size from micro plastics to floating docks. Problems related to the debris include financial, related to beach cleanup and the impact on the local tourist economy; ecological, including wildlife impacts and invasive species; public health related to chemical contamination of micro plastics; public policy related to tsunami preparedness and land use; and logistical, related to the sheer scope of the problem (for more information: www.solv.org and www.marinedebris.noaa.gov, www.seaturtlesforever.org).

The Challenge
Design an innovative solution to tsunami and other marine debris which addresses:

  • Sustainable collection.
  • Repatriation of personal and commercial items.
  • Repurposing
  • Recycling
  • Disposal

The design should help bridge the past, present and future impacts of marine debris that finds its way onto Oregon beaches.


  • Teams are made up of 3 or more members.
  • Feasibility of implementation and funding for 5-year minimum
  • The design should be fundable and clearly implementable even if submitting team does not intend to implement.
  • Replicable and scalable
  • The design may be for a defined place or region but should be replicable and scalable to address full scope of the problem.
  • Percent of waste repurposed/recycled vs disposed of in various ways.
  • The design should address waste from pickup to end use or disposal.
  • Multiple impact assessment
  • The system design should address multiple impacts including but not limited to local/global economics, wildlife, habitat, community, policy, education, engagement in tsunami planning, prevention of plastics entering waste stream and general beach cleanup including microplastics in sand.
  • Project Reach
  • Design should have educational impact, including but not limited to tsunami awareness, coastal ecology, and long-term stewardship.
  • Designers should consider broad connections to public including Japan.
  • Collaboration
  • Collaborative teams are highly encouraged (especially relevant will be if one partner intends to implement the design). Teams are encouraged to include professional or expert mentors important to particular design elements. They may come from within the university or from the nonprofit or private sector.

Submitted Designs
All designs will be published on the Collaborative Design website (www.CODEpdx.org) website. The designs will be considered open source. If any patentable products or processes need protection the design team should secure that protection prior to submission.

Taken by Laura DeVito

Guidelines For Submission
ELIGIBILITY: The design contest is open to all colleges and universities. One entry per team/individual will be accepted. Collaboration on any and all parts of a submission is encouraged, but the submission must be submitted in one group/individual’s name.

ENTRY SPECIFICATIONS: All submissions shall include a written description of the design limited to six (6) pages (8 1/2 x11 using 12-point type). Submissions must be in English. Each submission may be accompanied by acceptable media as described below. Entries will be submitted electronically to Collaborative Design website (www.codepdx.com). A working model of any part of the design is also acceptable and encouraged.

ACCEPTABLE SUBMISSION MEDIA: Short video, photography, graphic design, illustration, painting and drawing submissions will be accepted.

IMAGE FILES: All art and graphic entries should be submitted in the largest, highest quality version possible in jpeg, tif or pdf formats. Scanned prints and photographs should have a resolution of 600 dpi or higher. File size should not exceed 20MB.

VIDEO: Short video entries must be at least 30 seconds in length, but not exceed 3 minutes. All short video submissions must be submitted in an uncompressed format (such as .avi or .mov). Submissions must be made directly to www.codepdx.com, not linked to another site.

Any submissions received outside of the above specifications will be disqualified. Team/individual names and contact info must also accompany each submission.

ENTRY FORM: Each entry must be original in concept, design and execution and not violate any U.S. copyright laws. All entrants must complete an on-line entry form @ codepdx.com. Entrants are encouraged to complete the entry form early to indicate intention to submit a full design.

JUDGING CRITERIA: In addition to the criteria listed in the Design Challenge Criteria, submissions will be judged on the following:

  • Clarity of communicating the concept and its impact
  • Effectiveness at motivating, encouraging behavior change

All entries must be submitted to www.codepdx.com by midnight on January 31, 2013.
The final judging event will occur on Saturday, March 9, 2013 from 10AM – 3PM at PNCA.

  • 1st: $3,000
  • 2nd: $2,000
  • 3rd: $1,000
  • Scholarship: Any student on the top three winning teams who applies and is accepted into PNCA’s MFA in Collaborative Design program will be offered a $2,000 scholarship.

USE OF SUBMISSIONS: SOLVE and PNCA reserve the right to feature any and all entries submitted in activities that promote the conservation, preservation and responsible management of the environment. Creators will be identified in all promotions.


Download Design Challenge Brief




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The Digital Studio space is an area where students can post live projects to receive feedback from contributors and find collaborators. Parts of the Digital Studio are accessible only with the permission of project creators. To gain full access to a project please contact the creator with inquiries.

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