*This website was created for the first Big Ten Student Design Challenge hosted during the 2018-2019 academic year. To join or learn more about the current year’s competition, visit

1. Assemble Your Team

A student team consists of 3-4 members from the same university, and members may come from any major. Original ideas, creative thinking, and attention to detail will produce the strongest proposals, so keep that in mind as you’re recruiting friends and classmates to participate in this competition with you.

2. Download Materials

You will need the following documents to get started.

  • Space Overview: this document defines the space you will be redesigning for the competition, and is specific to your university.
  • Herman Miller Custom Catalog: choose from the furniture in this catalog to refurnish the space your university has made available.
  • Proposal Template: complete and submit this document to enter the competition.

Select your home university and enter your email address below. You will receive an automated email with links to download the materials listed above. Your email address will not be shared with advertisers nor with anyone for purposes outside of the Big Ten Student Design Challenge. Organizers may email to notify you about important updates related to the competition, however you may opt out at any time.

Request Materials
Select your home university.
Enter your university-issued email address if applicable.

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3. Submit Your Proposal

Get creative! If you could re-imagine this space to be anything you want, how would it look? How should it be used? If you’re not sure where to start, use our contact form to ask questions, connect with someone at your university, or request a free consult with professional space designers from Herman Miller. Although you may be consulting with faculty or professionals on your proposal, the designs and ideas must be your own. Proposals will be accepted through the evening of November 27, 2018.


  • Submission window closes – Nov 27, 2018
  • Top 3 teams notified – Dec 21, 2018
  • Top 3 teams visit Herman Miller – Feb 7-8, 2019
  • Winning team announced – Feb 22, 2019
  • Winning submission planned – Mar 2019
  • Winning submission built – Summer 2019


Proposals are evaluated on a weighted rubric with the following criteria: Vision (15%), Floor Plan (15%), Furnishings (30%), Flooring and Wall (10%), Overall + Optional Elements (30%). The three rounds of judging are as follows:

  • Local: Each participating university will hold a round of judging to review submissions. One top team will be selected to represent each university in the national judging round. (Early December 2018)
  • National: The best proposal from each university will be be considered together in this round. Judges will select three teams to attend a two-day workshop at Herman Miller Headquarters in February, during which teams will receive professional feedback and refine their proposals for the final round of judging. (Mid December 2018)
  • Final: After proposals have been refined, one winner will be selected for the grand prize. (Late February 2018)


  • Top Teams: The top three teams selected will go on a two-day, all expenses paid trip to Herman Miller headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During this trip, student teams will present their proposals, receive professional feedback and training, and submit a final version of their designs for the final round of judging.
  • Winning Team: The winning team will receive $2000 in prize money (taxes apply), and their proposal will be built at their home university with furniture provided by Herman Miller, free of cost to the university.
  • Additional Benefits: In setting up this competition, we hope to provide students with the opportunity to participate in building their own environment. Throughout the competition, students will have the opportunity to:
    • Interact with faculty, staff, and industry professionals.
    • Build an actionable proposal using real-world parameters.
    • Participate in an exciting, high-visibility national competition with fellow students.
    • Gain experience by practicing organization and communication skills.

Waiver and Release

Please visit the Submit page to review terms related to use of submitted designs, ownership of intellectual property, and eligibility requirements.


What schools are participating in this competition?
At the top of this page under the heading Download Materials, you should see a dropdown box labeled University. Click the dropdown box to see this year’s list of participating universities.

Is this competition limited to majors such as Design or Architecture?
Not at all! The best product designs often come from teams with people from all areas of expertise, so think about recruiting teammates based on their individual skills, creativity, or life experience. Recruit an art major for ideas on creative aesthetics, a Psych major to help with human behavior in various spaces, or an English major to make sure the writing in your proposal is solid. Sometimes it’s helpful just to have someone with fresh perspective.

Am I coming up with a space from scratch, or designing for one that already exists?
Each participating university has designated a space for you to redesign, and you must design for the space that your home university has made available. Use the short form at the top of this page to request materials for your school.

How many people can be on my team?
Each student team must consist of specifically 3 or 4 members. It is up to your team how to best assign roles or split up the work among members.

Is this competition open to graduate students?
This competition has been designed toward undergraduate students, however graduate students are welcome to be team members as well. Students must be from one of the nine participating universities in this competition.

When writing my proposal, may I link to images or information outside of the Word document I am submitting?
Part of successful professional proposal writing is being thorough, yet concise. For this competition, you must use the Word template provided, and your proposal must be self-contained. All images or information you would like judges to consider must appear within the body of the proposal you submit.

What time are submissions due on November 27th, 2018?
Plan to enter your submission online no later than 11:59pm (Central) on November 27th. Entries will be accepted through the Submit page for a few hours past midnight to account for technical difficulties related to increased site traffic around that time.

Is the $2000 prize awarded to each person on the team or split among the members?
The $2000 prize will be split equally among the members of the single winning team.

Who do I contact if I still have questions?
Send any questions using the form on our Contact page, and a competition organizer will respond within 1-2 business days. Questions sent during and around university holidays may take a little longer to be answered.