Student projects to address real-world needs at ocMaker Challenge

Students from across Orange County will exhibit more than 200 STEM-based designs demonstrating creativity and innovation at next month’s ocMaker Challenge.

Free and open to the public, the event will feature projects aimed at solving real-world problems or needs — all built by teams from local middle and high schools. Exhibits will be publicly showcased and judged Friday, May 10 at Chapman University’s Hutton Sports Center in Orange.

ocMaker Challenge sign“The ocMaker Challenge is really about leveraging the design-thinking process, which uses creativity, critical thinking and a focus on the end-user’s experience to solve problems,” said OCDE Chief Academic Officer Jeff Hittenberger. “Research indicates these traits will be essential for future workers as automation and artificial intelligence continue to encroach on more routine tasks.”

Organizers of this year’s ocMaker Challenge have also partnered with Chapman’s newly opened Keck Center for Science and Engineering to host a free presentation and documentary screening of “Dream Big: Engineering Our World.” Program times are 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on May 10. The Keck Center will be open for self-guided tours that day, offering hands-on STEM experiences, interactive robotics activities, 3D printing demonstrations and esports, which will be in the Hutton Sports Center.

Integrating STEM technologies with art and design, ocMaker Challenge teams begin as early as October, collaborating, designing and building prototypes with varying degrees of difficulty. Student projects will be judged on a criteria that includes originality and functionality.

The top teams will win cash prizes during an awards ceremony on Saturday, May 11 that will spotlight such categories as “Most Innovative” and “Most Socially Conscious Product.” And a new category, the “App Augmented Product,” will recognize products that have been enhanced by the integration of student-coded smartphone apps.

The ocMaker Challenge is organized by the Orange County Department of Education’s Career Education Unit and promoted by CTEoc/Vital Link, with cash prizes provided by such sponsors as Airwolf 3D, MatterHackers, the Anaheim Ducks and California Community Colleges. For more information, check out the video below, call 714-966-3531 or visit