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Make48 Regional Competition in Bentonville, AR: Outdoor Adventures and Innovation

Make48 recently concluded its final Regional competition in Bentonville, Arkansas, and what an exciting event it was! Hosted by NW Arkansas Community College at their state-of-the-art Integrated Design Lab, the competition showcased the creative talents of seven teams from across the state. The challenge at hand was no small feat: encouraging and motivating people to embrace the great outdoors and an active lifestyle.

Seven teams from around the state participated in the 2-day T-Mobile “Great Outdoors” challenge. Bentonville, known as "the mountain biking capital of the world," provided the perfect backdrop for this challenge. With its extensive network of mountain biking trails, state parks, lakes, and museums, the city has transformed itself into a thriving tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Judges Chris Moore (T-Mobile), Jeanette Collins (NWA Council), and Andrew Gibbs-Dabney (LIVSN Designs) had the tough task of evaluating the teams' pitches. Each team had to choose one of four scenarios to address with their innovative solutions:

  1. For the Novice: Experiencing activities (such as hiking, canoeing, biking, etc.) can be intimidating or unsafe for first-time participants. Create a concept to make these activities more safe.

  2. Spirit of Competition: Create a racing concept and chase other opponents to motivate yourself.

  3. The Fan Experience: Create a new concept to engage the fans/audience by sharing the participant’s experience when watching and/or not being physically there.

  4. Fun for the Family: Find a fun way to encourage the whole family to use the trails with a combination of the great outdoors and virtual reality.

The competition was multifaceted, with teams required to create a physical prototype incorporating T-Mobile 5G connectivity, design a one-minute marketing video, and develop a concept phone app homepage to present to the judges, all while explaining their business model.

Teams: NWACC Maker Club Student Group, The Delta School, NWACC Jacks, Rat Scallions, Ctrl Alt Defeat, Makineers, The Golden Eagles (slide: l to r)

During the competition, teams received valuable support from mentors, patent attorneys, and Tool Techs. Errin Stanger (AR HUB) and John Montanye (37 North Expeditions) were mentors who provided guidance and expertise in various areas such as design and marketing. Chris DeBacker was our patent attorney who helped teams navigate their intellectual property.

And, of course, a big hand goes to the Tool Techs who stayed the course with the teams. Techs included NWACC Makers (Ray Taylor, Matt Mears, Elysia Contreras-Springer and Don Schultz), Adam Kittrell (AR HUB), Luis Rodriguez (Ultimaker), Simon Mused (Scott Family Amazeum), Ryan Patterson (ShopBot), and the T-Mobile Techs including Dave Reimer, Ethan Stiles, Mitul Kachhla, Jared Baumann and Tex Teixeira who incorporated technology into teams prototypes. Onshape CAD designers Matt Rohr and Mehul Gala, Anderson Ta (Benton Drones/Bentonwheel), Joel Gordon (Matterhackers) and Josh Baxter (​​Arion Pictures) rounded out the incredible crew.

Tool Techs 2023: Bentonville-NWACC

Volunteers from NWACC played a crucial role in ensuring the smooth running of the event including; Christine Davis, Shankar Ravi, Sharon Fox, Laurie Scott, Eve Aldridge, Diana Johnson, Isaac Marten, Aaron Pelloquin and Logan Burnett.

The vibrant Bentonville community of entrepreneurs and industry partners turned out in force on Saturday night for a VIP walkthrough, providing the competing teams with invaluable feedback and guidance. NWACC's dedication to promoting innovation and hands-on experiences in the region was clearly evident.

After a weekend filled with innovation and creativity, two standout teams were chosen to advance to the national level of the Make48 competition, representing the spirit of innovation and the outdoors in Bentonville, Arkansas. They will compete against six teams this November at the AR Innovation Hub in North Little Rock. Follow us as we announce the teams who will be representing their states at Nationals!

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