Students like Brandon Cooke are used to pulling all-nighters for school. But, this time, he and his classmates are trying to change the world.
"What it is, is a very short time span where we attack design problems and we find solutions quickly," Cooke said.
He is a senior majoring in Industrial Design at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Cooke and other design students are taking part in a 24-hour global 'hackathon' put on by Design Good Now, a collaboration of universities sharing ideas to solve current problems.
"Break it down into needs, problems, and solutions," Cooke said.
Metro State is one of eight universities nationwide and forty programs total across the world invited to this virtual global workshop. The assignment is to design an assistive device for the disabled.
"Through seeing what they go through, we're happy to be in our position and be somewhere we have tools, assets, and skills that can help them," Cooke said.
Cooke and his team of ten fellow design students are working on a 'smart' cane for the blind, fitted with infrared sensors and an internet connection to help them navigate and organize things more effectively. Professor Ted Shin says this is a big deal for the Industrial Design Department which he serves as the chair.
"It's not about you know making money," Shin said. "It's to try to make this world better."
Shin says the skills and pressures these students are taking on in this 24-hour period will prepare them for the professional world after graduation.
"From my own experience, yes, that's when you get the best idea of you," Shin said.
The students will work straight through the night until 9 a.m. Cooke says he and his coffee mug are ready.
"That pressure, that just keeps you going. You move quicker. You iterate. You don't get stuck. You don't overanalyze," Cooke said. "You get to that solution much quicker."
The hackathon is not a contest. At the end, the universities will share their ideas with each other. Companies that are sponsoring the event may choose to research these ideas further and eventually manufacture them.
"It's exciting to start with a blank slate and really end up with a visual that's thought through," Cooke said.