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Two UMSI students win Fall 2020 Student Design Summit

Prototype of the mobile app Descrypt Detroit

Thursday, 03/11/2021

Master of Health Informatics student Frances Mackercher and Master of Science in Information student Sam Wood won the Fall 2020 Student Design Competition for their team submission, Decrypt Detroit.

The Student Design Challenge is part of the Student Design Summit, a component of the Detroit Cultural Center Planning Initiative (CCPI). The Initiative is funded by the Detroit Institute for Arts (DIA) and Midtown Detroit, Inc., a not-for-profit community and economic development organization. 

The goal of the summit is to “engage students in contemporary design practice and community involvement,” according to the CCPI website. Students across the State of Michigan are able to participate in the Design Competition which asks them to use innovative digital design solutions to re-conceptualizes public spaces. 

The Fall 2020 Summit focused on the Midtown Cultural Center, a nine block radius encompassing multiple cultural institutions including The University of Michigan’s Horace H. Rackham Education Memorial, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit Public Library among many others. 

Students were challenged to think about utilizing technology to further the Midtown Cultural Center’s missions and “help them better coordinate, cooperate and collaborate with each other to enhance the experiences of visitors to their institutions and to the wider cultural district.” 

The UMSI student team created an interactive mobile-app competition across the cultural district that targets Detroit students. Mackercher and Wood said in their project description: “Decrypt Detroit provides ‘missions’  for students to complete throughout the district. Scavenger hunts unique to each institution will lead players through each location, and points can be earned by finding and scanning QR codes throughout the institutions.”

The project was evaluated on its integration of all cultural institutions, use of digital technology, development and accounting for local factors like transit and connectivity.

Fall 2020 marked the third competition in which UMSI students have participated in the design challenge. In 2019, UMSI students Cameron Giniel, Abraham Rycus and Adrienne Royce won second place for their entry “Midtown Screenspace.” In 2018, UMSI students Denise Baran, Alissa Graff, Teresa Cao and Guanrong Wang  received honorable mention for their project “ConnectD.”

- Kate Cammell, Writer UMSI