In 2019 university Chapter, EWB Loughborough founded the Designathon, a hackathon-style design event using an imagined design brief to encourage students to think about the design process outside of the curriculum. The Chapter reported the event’s great success and we quickly saw the opportunity to engage students in an intensive extracurricular Design Challenge, encouraging them to consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of their designs.

After developing this concept, in 2019 we provided university Chapters across the country with a real-world design brief and training on how to run the event in their institutions. In 2020, students had to adapt the challenge, taking their events online. In November of that year, EWB Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, East Angelia, Lancaster, Nottingham Trent and Southampton evolved the concept, creating their own design brief in reaction to the thousands of people displaced by hurricane Eta that devastated countries in Central America. The technology-savvy students hosted an engaging and successful event inviting judges Lacey Aucoin from Stantec and Isabella Mascarenhas from RS Components to provide their indispensable industry insights.

As these innovative Chapter committees proved, we have all learned how to adapt over the last 10 months and continue to do so, finding new opportunities utilising virtual delivery methods. Developing those skills is exactly what has allowed us to organise our first-nationwide, month-long Designathon. The event invites students studying at UK universities to engage in the same extracurricular Design Challenge simultaneously, providing space for lateral collaboration making the most of remote working.

Key information

  • For students studying in UK universities
  • Kick-off on Monday 1 February
  • Each team will be provided with a real-world design brief and marking criteria
  • Online events held throughout the month to support the design process
  • Judges award prizes at the final event on Saturday 27 February


Design brief

The design brief for this national event is provided by architecture charity, AzuKo, which strives to empower people through design. The charity, founded by Change Maker Jo Ashbridge, operates internationally with previous and current projects taking place in Bangladesh, China, Eastern DRC, Toronto, Switzerland Uganda and the UK.

EVENt format

The month-long event will launch on Monday 1 February and will be interspersed with sessions hosted by speakers from varied disciplines, training sessions on key skills from presenting to workshops on the design process, and the opportunity to gain feedback from industry professionals. The challenge will conclude during a final event on Saturday 27 February, during which prizes will be awarded by a judging panel to the teams that show the most creativity, innovation and evidence of how they have considered the social, environmental and economic impacts of their design.


This event is open to students from all disciplines, encouraging diversity of thought and skill across every team. You may sign up as a team that may be made up of students from the same or various universities, with a maximum of five people. Alternatively, you can sign up as an individual and will be assigned a team.

We are so excited to be offering this virtual, collaborative challenge which will provide a fantastic opportunity to showcase the potential of so many students across the country, who are invested in ensuring engineering is serving all people and the planet better than ever before.