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Milwaukee Team Spotlight | Dreaming DeNicolas

Seven teams came together in July 2022 to build an outdoor interactive playground experience for Harley-Davidson. Congratulations to Kevin, Melissa, Winston and Emilia who will represent Milwaukee, WI at the national competition! The Dreaming DeNicolas are a family team who decided to apply for the competition after watching the Make48 program on television. The DeNicolas will now compete for a chance to win $10,000 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Kevin, Emilia, Winston and Melissa DeNicola

Milwaukee held their first Make48 competition at MIAD, Wisconsin’s only four-year independent art and design college. Faculty members Marie Couture, Ben Dembroski and President Jeff Morin opened their doors to the competition while Annushka Peck, Director of the 3d lab, led the tool techs throughout the weekend. Harley-Davidson called the Interactive Outdoor Play challenge. Teams toured the Harley-Davidson Museum to learn more about the history, brand, culture and draw inspiration from the legendary motor company.

Participants had to create an outdoor, interactive playground experience for the Harley-Davidson Museum campus. It had to be one element of a playground, NOT a full playground design. Ideas could be brand new, OR an improvement to a current product that may enhance/expand enjoyment, OR build an accessory to an existing product. Special criteria for this challenge included adhering to the USA playground safety standard, teams also had to include a CAD Onshape design with their sales sheet, and the final prototype had to be built to small-scale (max. Of 36 inches). Finally, the teams had to explain how the playground equipment worked and consider ways of how Harley-Davidson could market the equipment on various social channels.

The HARLEY-GO-ROUND and Dreaming DeNicolas won the judges over. Kevin and Melissa DeNicola are the parents to Winston and Emilia and together their family developed the first place winning idea, The Harley-Go-Round. Sustainability and the renewable energy movement was a big component behind their idea.

The Winning Prototype - Harley-Go-Round

The magic behind the HARLEY-GO-ROUND is it harnesses the power and energy of kids as they play on the Harley-Go-Round. It then converts and stores that energy as electricity to be used at the playground area, where it's needed most, ie. a charging station would take the energy and be utilized to charge any mobile device. Judges Ashwini Balasubramanian (Harley-Davidson), Chris Nelson (Harley-Davidson Museum) and Keith Stanley’s (Near West Side Partners, Inc.) deliberations earned the Dreaming DeNicolas a seat at Nationals! Learn more about the Wisconsin family below.

What’s a fun fact about each member of your team?

Winston: Loves basketball - he plays on different teams all year long.

Emilia: Loves singing and dancing.

Melissa: Loves entertaining and event planning.

Kevin: Can flip pizzas!

How did your team meet?

Melissa and Kevin met on the school bus the first day of 5th grade and became best friends - the rest is history!

What’s a crazy anecdote or heartwarming story about you or your family?

Winston: I snuck into a water park while in Mexico.

Emilia: Getting our dog, Mazie!

Melissa: At 20 weeks, I was put on severe bed rest during my pregnancy with Winston and was told that we would most likely have him 10-12 weeks early(!) However I delivered at 39 weeks.

At Nationals, what’s one thing you want to do, or see, at the Kansas City Competition?

Winston: Have a great time and meet the tool techs.

Emilia: See Jay Flores and meet the new Tool Techs. (Unfortunately Jay won’t be at Nationals <SAD FACE>)

Melissa: Catching up with the Make48 crew and meeting the Tool Techs.

Kevin: Eat BBQ (Always a great idea in KC!)

For the first time, teams have a chance this year to win the Spirit Stick Award. The winners will receive a KC gift bundle and CEO, Tom Gray will take the team out to dinner (in their city). Where do you think the team will choose?

Winston, Melissa and Kevin: Buck's Game

Emilia: Go to the Selfie Museum in Milwaukee!

What was your favorite snack at the M48 Event?

Winston: Rice Krispies Emilia: Cinnamon Bagels

Melissa: Coffee

Kevin: Apples and Coffee

What Do You Think You’ll Do Differently, If Anything, At Nationals?

Winston: Not freeze on camera - don't be awkward. :)

Emilia: Be more organized.

Melissa: Create a timeline of tasks and responsibilities.

Kevin: Try to delegate more evenly.

Finally, What’s The Biggest Strength On Your Team?

Winston: Working together.

Emilia: Communicating with each other.

Melissa: Communication and always having fun coming up with ideas.

Kevin: We're family and all enjoy brainstorming together.

Amy Gray, Annushka Peck, Tom Gray and Marie Couture with the Dreaming DeNicolas

Good luck to the Dreaming DeNicolas! To learn more about host location, MIAD, follow them on Instagram and on Facebook.

Make48 will be returning to Beloit this summer. To learn about sponsorship opportunities please email Wisconsin Ambassador Katie Cappozzo at

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