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A Look Back At Milwaukee-Make48 Challenge at MIAD | Interactive Outdoor Play with Harley-Davidson

Updated: Jul 12

How do you come up with a new idea for an iconic brand in 48 hours? Seven teams thought outside the box to create an outdoor interactive playground experience for the Harley-Davidson Museum. And with the help of skilled designers, engineers and makers, competed for a chance to win $2,000 and move forward to Nationals.

Teams and Tool Techs

Wisconsin’s only four-year independent art and design college was the backdrop of the competition. The MIAD campus was an ideal location to get the team's creative juices going. Located in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward district, the school’s campus is a mix of new and old, and has one of the most comprehensive art and design environments in the country.

A menagerie of skill sets, creative thinking, and passion were released at the Milwaukee-Make48 event. Teams spent the majority of their time brainstorming their ideas and building inside the MIAD Steve Lacey 3D Lab. Faculty members Marie Couture, Ben Dembroski and President Jeffrey Morin opened their doors to the competition. Annushka Peck, Director of the 3d lab, lent her expertise and led the tool techs throughout the weekend.

Milwaukee Tool Techs

Marie Couture is the Director of Facilities & Logistics at MIAD and explained why their school was an ideal location to host Make48. “The M in MIAD matters. We are central to Milwaukee's creative industry, providing a sound education focused on making. MIAD offers in essence a 250,000 square foot maker space for creation, entrepreneurship, and community. Even within Make48's condensed time frame, MIAD's facilities and staff pivoted and adapted as needed to encourage participants' sustainable making and creative processes.”

Scott helping Winston from Dreaming DeNicola's

Scott Oram, from Dad It Yourself DIY, is a maker from Washington. He traveled to Milwaukee and experienced his first Make48 event at MIAD. “First impressions, the creativity is awesome. MIAD has all these mixed media and creative people, from the woodworkers to the textile lab, and you can see the passion they have for what they do.”

Three mentors guided the teams with their ideas. Two Harley-Davidson employees Eryn and Derek, and Leah from BCI Burke, helped the teams with the challenge to make a playground element that could potentially be used as part of a community playground on the Harley-Davidson Museum campus.

Derek, Eryn and Leah - Mentors

Shanna Beanan (Talent Lead at Harley-Davidson) helped bring Make48 to Milwaukee and have Harley-Davidson participate as the Challenge Sponsor this year. “I was fortunate enough to be able to see Make48 in action during the Madison, WI City Series in 2021. The atmosphere in the room was full of inspiration and excitement – it was contagious - and I knew immediately that H-D needed to be part of what Make48 was building. Harley-Davidson has a long, rich history of innovation - we know first-hand how important it is to continue to foster creativity, imagination, and innovation within our communities and Make48 is helping to do exactly that.”

A handful of companies were supporters of the competition. Boyle Fredrickson, Husco, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, MSOE University, PTC Onshape and Fastenal were just a few organizations who championed the idea of bringing the 48-hour challenge to Milwaukee. Husco International even participated and nominated their own team. Hayes Wass led the team with students Oscar and Griffin from St. Augustine Prep Academy.

Shooting Stars - HUSCO-led team

Fastenal employees were an amazing support and helped our team with any and all requests. From assisting teams to unloading the trailer and making sure food and drinks were readily available for the whole team, their team members were there to help out. Chris Tuttle, one of the Fastenal volunteers, found it extremely interesting. “I saw unique ideas for different solutions from different angles. Collaboration equals different perspectives and I’m seeing a lot of that this weekend.”

Fastenal team lending a hand unloading the trailer!

Brad and Eric are patent attorneys from Boyle Fredrickson, s.c. who researched the team's ideas to make sure they didn’t violate any prior art or ideas that were already patentable. Boyle Fredrickson is Wisconsin's largest IP law firm. IP law is their only area of practice, and Brad and Eric saw wide-ranging ideas from the teams, some very original ideas. Boyle Fredrickson wanted to support the event since it was tied directly to what they do and to the Milwaukee community. Eric saw a clip of the Madison event at FIRST Lego League last year. “They played the Madison clip because a team member from FIRST participated in the event. It looked very interesting and something fun to be a part of.”

All smiles from Eric and Brad - Boyle Fredrickson

PTC Onshape sent CAD experts, Mehul Gala and Matt Rohr, to help teams develop their product. It was Mehul’s first event helping the teams prototype their ideas. “I came to Make48 to share PTC Onshape’s technology and get the most out of our platform. It’s been great helping the teams create beautiful renderings using Onshape. This weekend is really showing how collaboration is key to so many ideas.”

Mehul assisting Team LARC

Teams, tool techs and the volunteers worked tirelessly until the clock ran down on Sunday afternoon. Judging took place inside the Harley-Davidson museum, inside an exquisite reception ballroom, where the seven teams revealed their prototypes to hopefully one day, be showcased on the Harley-Davidson campus.

Shanna is a STEM advocate for Harley-Davidson and was inspired by what she saw. “We were all blown away by the finished prototypes and team pitches! It was truly amazing to see what the teams were able to do in just 48 hours – it is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when people have access to the tools, resources, and people that can help make their vision come to life. What many of us found so inspiring is that every team had access to the same resources, yet everyone had different ideas – it was incredible to see their creativity and ideas come together throughout the weekend. Our team is still buzzing from the excitement and innovation that we saw during this event!”

Jay and Tom hit the road!

The Make48 team wants to thank everyone for participating and supporting the first Milwaukee event. To the community, teams, and volunteers - we were amazed by the determination and hard work from the whole crew. We can’t wait to share the innovations built in just 48 hours. The 3-minute Milwaukee-Make48 highlight sizzle will be released in the upcoming week. The next City Series stop will be in the Greater Madison area, at the FABLAB in Stoughton, Wisconsin. See you on the road!

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