Aaron Naparstek

Aaron Naparstek is a journalist, producer and advocate. He is the founder of Streetsblog, an online publication providing daily conversation about transportation, land use and environmental issues with reporters based in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC. Launched in 2006, Streetsblog has played a significant role in transforming New York City transportation policy and galvanizing a Livable Streets movement that is pushing for a more people-centered, less automobile-oriented approach to transportation planning and urban design in communities across North America and around the world.

As an activist and community organizer, Naparstek’s advocacy work has been instrumental in growing New York City's bike network, removing motor vehicles from parks and developing new public plazas, car-free streets and life-saving traffic-calming measures. Most recently, Naparstek co-founded two new organizations that are working to transform New York's political landscape, 
StreetsPAC.org and ReinventAlbany.org.

Naparstek is the author of Honku: The Zen Antidote for Road Rage, a book of haiku poetry inspired by the sociopathic motorists of Brooklyn, New York. Naparstek speaks and works with local livable streets activists around the world, training them in the use of social media for advocacy and political action. He was a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 2012 and spent the last two years at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning as a Visiting Scholar.

2014 Schedule

Welcome to A Better World by Design 2014. Scroll down to see the myriad events happening on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Download a PDF Schedule »




A Better World Collaboration


A Better World Collaboration

At A Better World by Design (ABWxD), we believe that design should be interdisciplinary and dynamic, even when it takes a little extra time to make that happen, and it should be open to everyone, everywhere, everyday. For that reason, we seek collaboration with organizations that understand our movement to make the world a better place.

Sponsors are those who support what we do and sponsor the conference monetarily to help make it happen. Partners are people who work with us on specific projects that require work for both sides of the partnership.

Our conference brings together over 1,000 students and professionals from fields as diverse as engineering, business, design, politics, and academic, all working together to promote the use of design in bridging disciplines and building solutions to current issues. And so our Sponsors and Partners can feel confident that they are reaching an audience of innovators who make change happen.

Thank you for considering a Sponsorship or Partnership with ABWxD. Look over our 2014 Partnership Kit, and let’s talk more about the ways in which we can collaborate! Feel free to email us at finance@abetterworldbydesign.com.

DCI Challenge


The BWxD and DCI challenge is a yearly design competition that asks students and professionals to pause and effect a socially-conscious topic through design and discourse.

The 2013 Winners



About the Designer
Maeve is an industrial designer focused humanitarian design and social entrepreneurship. She believes in working hard, playing, learning, collaborating, creating, and living well. She is currently in the process of launching Increment, a toy design company for children with disabilities.


Product Elevator Pitch
Is your wet-bar-of-soap-problem getting out of hand? If you can’t handle the issue, it can be a slippery slope. Down the drain. Its time to take the gloves off and make a clean getaway. Instead of struggling to hold onto your soap when it gets too small, tuck it in the SoapSaver with any other soap scraps and extend soap-life dramatically. The bar-soap shaped silicone casing makes it easy to grip, and a perforated bottom allows the soap suds through, so you can use it just like a bar of soap (minus the dropping and the slipping and the tears). So, grab life by the soap, and get clean.



About the Designer
As a Chinese who immigrated to Canada, and studies in the US, I was able to open up my mind with multi-cultural knowledge. I have came from a fine art background, drawing and painting for as long as five years before RISD. However, after learning more about Industrial Design and how it could benefit millions of users, I have decided to pursue a degree in ID. I have been designing with the universality between people, making sure that the design does not only apply to a single race, gender, or cultural background, so my design can be used by and benefit anyone and everyone.


Poke is a design inspired by the commonly used international adapter plugs. They are small and act as a bridge between a plug and an outlet. After carefully studying them, I find the similar method can be applied, but instead of converting the electricity current, I can design it so it stops the current completely with a simple poke.


Product Elevator Pitch
Every year, an average family will waste a minimum of $130 for leaving the plugs on. This would add up to 4 billion of waste in America. However, even then, many choose to not unplug simply because how troublesome it gets. Is unplugging the only way to stop electronics sucking out energy? Well, with Poke, there is another way, a simpler way; a quick poke on the plug will solve all the problem and help you save on money and our environment. It is the outlet that makes your electronics sustainable



About the Designer
I am an artist that found great joy in design. Whenever I am not designing I am a painter and sculptor.


I fell in love with Graffiti at thirteen, since then Ive found it impossible to not look at the world for how beautiful it could be.


Product Elevator Pitch
The Liquid Leash is a quick and simple way to turn any ordinary plastic bottle into a reusable water canteen. Every time you refill your plastic bottle, you stop another bottle from going into the landfill.

Exhibit at the Expo


The Expo is a great opportunity to meet and learn about upcoming ideas and innovations from students and professionals from a variety of disciplines across the country. If you have any questions about the 2013 Expo, you may email our Expo Coordinator. If you would like to register for the 2013 Expo, please fill out the following form.

I'd love to take part in the Expo




Speaker Spotlight: Changing the world through storytelling - an Interview with Julie Beeler

Julie Beeler and Brad Johnson are the Co-Founders and creative leaders of Second Story, a multidisciplinary media studio that has pushed the boundaries of interactive storytelling across digital channels—Web, mobile, and through digitized environments—since 1994. The studio has been a recognized leader in creating immersive content-rich interactive experiences for many of the world’s great brands and cultural institutions including National Geographic, the Smithsonian, MoMA, the Library of Congress, Nike, Target, and Coca-Cola. Now part of SapientNitro, Second Story’s current focus is in incubating innovative experiences that connect audiences to ideas in environments and installations that blend digital and physical realms.

Julie Beeler & Brad Johnson

Julie Beeler & Brad Johnson

As they are key speakers for the BWxD ’13 Conference, we were excited to hear what Julie Beeler and Brad Johnson would speak about and were able to get  a quick description of the crux of their talk:

Producing innovative work means you aren’t just making the same thing over and over, you are instead making something you have never made before. Reflection affords one the necessary consideration of context in ensuring change: ‘how is what I am doing now different than what I have been doing, and where is this trajectory pointing?’ In this presentation we will look at some of the transformations we experienced as a result of pause and effect reflection—most notably, that innovation depends on the evolution of the innovator, and that change is more easily achieved by organizations that are constantly changing.

With that in mind, we wanted to know more about our speaker and were able to prepare an exclusive interview with Julie Beeler.


BWxD: You’ve been with Second Story for almost two decades now. Can you tell us a little about some of your most memorable projects?

JB: Going on assignment in 1997 with National Geographic in search of the Giant Squid was thrilling. Brad was in New Zealand gathering content and building the site with Julie in Berkeley through daily dispatches that revealed the large crew’s attempts at capturing footage of a live architeuthis. The Theban Mapping Project was an awesome opportunity to use interactive media to connect broad audiences with rich archeological content. Dr. Kent Weeks’ exhaustive collection of mapping data, their exhaustive photographic documentation, laser-scanned tombs, comprehensive database of information, and lively first-person tours all converge in a singular interface that reveals every part of each of the 60+ Egyptian tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The projects that combined storytelling with navigable 3D worlds were always exciting. The Lagoda revealed the culture and industry of whaling through a nineteenth-century whaling ship. We explored Thomas Jefferson’s eighteenth-century world through Monticello, and in Yin Yu Tang audiences could connect to a rural Chinese family through their seventeenth-century home. Breaking out of screens and into the real world has been the most exciting frontier to explore. The Alumni Center at the University of Oregon is filled with towering media cascades that serve the stories and content that reveals an institution. For the National Academy of Sciences we designed an interactive exhibition to help audiences understand climate change and what can be done to address it, and at the other end of the spectrum, Coca-Cola’s Vault of the Secret Formula uses interactive environments to enchant audiences through mystery and obfuscation.

BWxD:  Your company prides itself on ‘pushing the boundaries of storytelling’ in creating interactive installations and projects. What sort of creative processes does your studio undergo in order to push design past traditional limits?


JB: There are several dimensions to our creative process that contribute to this constant pushing. As there are multiple dimensions to storytelling, we have always fostered a multidisciplinary creative team dynamic where ideas are born through a collaborative, iterative process. It is important that content, design, and technology considerations all co-inform the development of an idea from the outset. Our thinkers are makers, and their creative expertise is informed by their facility with their respective craft. We are constantly drawing on past experiences to inform future projects, and each new project is often an inventive mix of elements from several predecessors. Its as though we have a dynamic, evolving canon of work that we keep re-mixing in new ways to invent new variations. At the end of most projects we have a post-mortem and consider what worked well and what didn’t, and we try to imagine what the 2.0 version of the project could be. That imagined “pulsing” of the past inspires future projects that inherit their predecessor as a baseline on which to build. Our creative approach, both design and technical, is based on the concept of ‘designing from the inside out.’ Starting with the story, the content, the heart of the user experience we need to create and building out around that. Often in digital interactive design you see a process that starts from the outside and ultimately is refined inward and we take the opposite approach allowing us to start with the emotive and engaging and carry it through to the final experience that the visitors, users, guests and customers interact with. We make every attempt possible to “get real fast.” This means we try to go from an idea to something experiential as fast as possible so that no one can be blindly seduced by what they imagine through an abstraction layer. Our lab is an important ingredient in the penchant for pushing the limits: here our teams are constantly experimenting with new technologies that inspire the whole studio. We get to build things early in the creative process to design in context and iterate from a more informed perspective.


BWxD: Have you ever thought of any of your exhibits as failures, and if so how did you move on or learn from your experience?

JB: There was an online exhibition that we did about the history of American transportation that failed to live up to its potential, and served to awaken in us an understanding of the importance of the emotional dimensions of an experience. We got caught up in some nuanced intellectual considerations about how we could facilitate navigating through an exhibition and ‘behind the gallery walls’ to discover multiple perspectives and different levels of mediation around objects in a collection. In the end we realized not many people cared because they hadn’t been hooked in. We realized we need to connect with the heart before the mind, and it taught us the importance of balancing each ingredient in a story experience equally. There are other projects that have various and diverse components that we look critically at and would consider failures. These are sometimes small UI details, or lack of content that makes for a thin experience, and other times there are larger meta structures and frameworks that created systems and development issues but it is learning from these that allows us to continue to evolve, improve and advance our work to the next level.


BWxD: Your studio has received numerous awards and honors. Which are you most proud of and why?

JB: It is rewarding to get the validation that comes along with awards and accolades. They are affirmations from industry experts or popular culture that let you know you are doing something right. We are most proud however when you can really experience first-hand the effects a project is having on audiences. That is one thing about creating experiences in environments that has been most rewarding: to witness individuals and groups interacting with media experiences.


BWxD: What’s next for you?

JB: Helping Sapient take Second Story to new heights in new cities and making art.

Towards a Better World

Over the last five years, A Better World by Design has grown into a truly multi-disciplinary community of passionate students, professionals, and academics. For the three days of the conference, we celebrated the progress that our community has made toward a better world. In honor of this progress and the individuals like you who have made it happen, we have initiated the Better World Hall of Fame.

Anil Gupta


Founder of the Honey Bee Network

Looking to the poor of India, business professor Anil Gupta saw innovations and talent that were not being supported. In response, he started the Honey Bee Network and began searching the country with colleagues, often on foot, finding a myriad of inventions developed out of necessity. These discoveries are documented and often shared with the global community in order to facilitate the spread of ideas and innovation. Since 1988, the network’s database of original inventions has grown to over 12,000, and its newsletter is now published in 8 languages and distributed to 75 countries. Gupta also worked with the government of India to establish the National Innovation Foundation, which holds national competitions to encourage new inventors and helps sustain them through the National Micro Venture Innovation Fund. Through his efforts, Gupta has uncovered groundbreaking devices such as a pedal-operated washing machine, a micro-windmill battery charger, and a hoe powered by a bicycle.

John Fetterman



Mayor of Braddock, PA

John Fetterman graduated from Harvard University in 1999 with a Master of Public Policy degree. He moved to Braddock in 2001 to work for AmeriCorps, helping local youth who had left school earn their GED. After living in Braddock for four years, attracted by what he called the town’s “malignant beauty”, Fetterman ran for mayor in 2005. Following his election, Fetterman initiated youth and art programs, created a community center, and has initiated development of the town’s condemned buildings and struggling economy. Fetterman has attracted many young artists to the town through cheap rent and starting various art exhibitions. The town’s “renaissance” has attracted individuals from cities such as Chicago and Portland, Oregon, drawn by the potential for development and growth. Other programs he has spearheaded include a two-acre organic urban farm, run by teenagers of the Braddock Youth Project. Fetterman has also been involved in the Environmental Defense Fund’s advocacy for carbon caps and green technology and believes that development of green energy industries can revitalize the region’s economy.

Josh Nesbit and Isaac Holeman



Founders of Medic Mobile

While students at Stanford and Lewis and Clark, Josh Nesbit and Isaac Holeman began using the free software application FrontlineSMS to coordinate the logistics of healthcare workers at St Gabriel’s Hospital in Malawi where they were working. Inspired by the application and the difficulties patients had to go through to see a medic, Josh and Isaac founded MedicMobile. MedicMobile works with healthcare partners to leverage technology to connect patients to medical professionals and improve the services they provide. The company uses both software they have developed as well as open source software developed by other organizations. One tool they have created allows health care workers to explain patients’ symptom and transmit medical records using simple text messages. They hope to partner with a group from UCLA to offer a $15 diagnostic tool that uses a cellphone’s light and camera to remotely analyze a blood sample for malaria and tuberculosis.

Mert Isiri, Yuri Malina, and Hannah Chung



Founders of Design for America

In 2008, with the guidance of Northwestern University professor Liz Gerber, Mert Isiri, Yuri Malina, and Hannah Chung founded Design for America, a student organization intended to activate students to apply the design process to solving social and environmental issues. Now several years later, the organization has spread to 14 colleges and universities across the country, increasing awareness of the impact of design for social innovation to students nationwide. In addition to continuing to mentor new leaders within the organization, Mert, Yuri, and Hannah are working on their own start-ups born from Design for America projects. Mert and Yuri are working on a solution to hospital-born infection while Hannah is working with Aaron Horowitz on making an interactive teaching tool for children with type 1 diabetes.

Veronika Scott



Founder of the Empowerment Plan

As a student at the College for Creative Studies, Veronika realized a true need in her community, Almost 1 in 42 people in Detroit are homeless and the temperatures can get incredibly low. Not everyone can get into homeless shelters at night and must stay out in the freezing cold. In order to address this problem, Veronika created a coat that transforms into a sleeping bag for warmth and comfort during the night. This school project turned into The Empowerment Plan. This continuing humanitarian project works to achieve two ends: providing pride, skills, and money to homeless women in Detroit and providing coats at no cost to the homeless population there. The women are taught to manufacture the coats and are paid for their labor, providing both an income source to start saving for a home and valuable professional skills that they can use to find employment. Through sponsorship the coats that are produced are distributed for free to the homeless locally and globally.

Cecilia Bodin

Web Coordinator


Brown University, 2016

Economics & Visual Arts


Email Cecilia Bodin

Andres Chang

Social Events Coordinator


Brown University, 2017

Physics and Visual Arts


Email Andres Chang

Anna Plumlee


2014, 2012-2013 Participant Experience Coordinator

Brown University, 2015

Political Science

Email Anna Plumlee

Anna Zeidman



Brown University, 2015


Email Anna Zeidman

Cole Moore

Public Relations


Brown University, 2017

Environmental Studies and Modern Culture and Media

Email Cole Moore

Habiba Sugich



RISD, 2015

Industrial Design

Email Habiba Sugich

John Filmanowicz

Public Relations


Brown University, 2017

Mechanical Engineering

Email John Filmanowicz

Jordan Beard

Public Relations


Brown University, 2015

Latin American Studies & Modern Culture and Media


Email Jordan Beard

Katherine James

Food and Sustainability Coordinator


Brown University, 2015

Creative Writing

Email Katherine James

Kevin Cadena

Branding Coordinator


RISD, 2016

Graphic Design

Email Kevin Cadena

Omar Nema

Operations Coordinator


Brown University, 2015

Biomedical Engineering

Email Omar Nema

Paul Bird



RISD, 2015

Industrial Design

Email Paul Bird

Paulina Tarrant

Challenges and Finance Coordinator


Brown University, 2016

Environmental Studies and Visual Arts

Email Paulina Tarrant

Pierie Korostoff


2014, 2013 Social Events Coordinator

Brown-RISD Dual Degree, 2016

Textiles & Urban Studies


Email Pierie Korostoff

Prithika Mohan

Participant Experience and Volunteers Coordinator


RISD, 2015

Industrial Design

Email Prithika Mohan

Rachel Haberstroh

Public Relations


Brown University, 2015

Visual Arts and Political Science


Email Rachel Haberstroh

Sage Green

Challenges and Finance Coordinator

2014, 2013 Finance Coordinator

Brown University, 2015

Urban Studies

Email Sage Green

Tenzin Lama

Challenges and Finance Coordinator


Brown University, 2016

Mechanical Engineering & English

Email Tenzin Lama

Emma Funk

Web Coordinator


Brown University, 2016

Computer Science & History


Email Emma Funk

A Better World Collaboration

At A Better World by Design (ABWxD), we believe that design should be interdisciplinary and dynamic, even when it takes a little extra time to make that happen, and it should be open to everyone, everywhere, everyday. For that reason, we seek collaboration with organizations that understand our movement to make the world a better place.

Sponsors are those who support what we do and sponsor the conference monetarily to help make it happen. Partners are people who work with us on specific projects that require work for both sides of the partnership.

Our conference brings together over 1,000 students and professionals from fields as diverse as engineering, business, design, politics, and academic, all working together to promote the use of design in bridging disciplines and building solutions to current issues. And so our Sponsors and Partners can feel confident that they are reaching an audience of innovators who make change happen.

Thank you for considering a Sponsorship or Partnership with ABWxD. Look over our 2014 Partnership Kit, and let’s talk more about the ways in which we can collaborate! Feel free to email us at finance@abetterworldbydesign.com.




3M Design is the creative engine driving design for innovation at 3M Company. Our global team of diverse talent creates meaningful and consistent brand experiences to stimulate collaborative creativity. We translate insights into solutions that inspire positive impact for our customers, our employees, and our world.



The Undergraduate Finance Board (UFB) is the arm of student government responsible for allocating the student activity fee to the largest student groups on Brown’s campus. UFB works with groups to manage their finances and help groups put on events for the Brown community.



Decor Craft Inc. (DCI) is a Providence-based consumer product design and distribution company. DCI acknowledges the necessity for sustainable practices in the consumer goods market, and they are seeking to create products that address this by incorporating responsible manufacturing practices and materials in their designs.





The Autodesk Foundation is the first foundation to focus investment exclusively on the people and organizations using design for impact. We invests in impact designers who represent many fields of practice, but share one common goal: designing and creating a better world. We support these impact designers as they deliver more innovative, scalable, and measurable design solutions that address the most epic challenges of our time.





The SDDCO Group, founded in 1952, is committed to delivering professional, back-office support to emerging and established companies. SDDCO CPAs and consultants can help small to mid-sized firms, on a remote or onsite basis, fulfill their year-round accounting, bookkeeping, regulatory compliance, and tax obligations. SDDCO is proud to be a BWBD sponsor since the inception of this groundbreaking conference that connects socially responsible students to a global community of socially conscious innovators.



Conference date

The 2014 conference will take place on September 19th to 21st.

What this pass gets you

  1. Networking opportunities with hundreds of other professionals and students
  2. Professionally-facilitated workshops
  3. Presentations by established speakers
  4. Discussions with expert panels
  5. Access to the Better World Expo
  6. Entry to evening social events
  7. All meals provided
  8. Swag bag


wayfindingWayfinding is about orientation. It’s about developing and reading signs, navigating new terrain, and processing the unfamiliar. It encompasses understandings of both where you are and where you are going—individually, and in relation to your community. The 2014 conference will challenge attendees to create a more comprehensive understanding of our relationship to spaces, problems, and experiences.

Student Housing Program

If you’re a student and are interested in having an attendee stay at your place during the time of the conference, please fill out this form.

If you plan to attend the 2014 conference and are interested in being hosted by a Brown University or RISD student at their place during the time of the conference, please fill out this form.


ABWxD is partnering with People’s Power and Light to provide a green energy weekend! People’s Power and Light is a non-profit organization that has been succeeding for over 30 years to make energy more affordable and environmentally sustainable. They are helping us match electricity used at the conference with clean, local wind power.

Any carbon emissions from transportation during our conference will be offset with a donation to CarbonFund.org, a nonprofit that supports domestic and international renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Learn about carbon offsets »

Green Event Certification

Last year, ABWxD was proud to receive a Platinum rating from Brown Green Event, a student-driven initiative to promote and facilitate sustainable event planning at Brown University. Green Event grows Brown’s environmentally friendly culture by helping events at Brown reduce their waste, lower their carbon footprint, and educate attendees. With your help, we can go above and beyond last year’s successes!

How you can go Green

As a conference attendee, your help goes a long way toward reducing our environmental footprint.

Composting & Recycling: Two of the most effective ways to reduce your impact! Green Event volunteers will help you properly compost and recycle at our waste stations during meal times. All food waste, as well as the plant-based dinnerware we provide, is compostable. Please be sure to pay attention to how you dispose of waste throughout the weekend.

BYO Bottle: Remember to bring and use your own water bottle during the conference! We will have water stations set up during meal times, in addition to the water fountains and refill taps around Brown and RISD.

Mug o’ Joe: If you forgot your travel mug at home, you’re in luck! Ceramic mugs, generously donated by DCI, can be found in your ABWxD swag bag.

Go Paperless: Instead of using a program this weekend, download our mobile app Topi—it has all the same information, plus much, much more! Return this printed program at the registration table for us to recycle or give to someone else to use. Our program and other necessary printed materials are already made from a recycled paper option, but we want to be sure they are all disposed of properly.

Connect: We are working with some awesome local food producers and businesses to provide you with the best snacks and meals—take a minute to chat and hear about what they do and how they do it! For a detailed list, click here.

Stay tuned for a final tally of our waste diversion rate and Green Event rating. Remember, we can’t do it without your help!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please email Katherine at kjames@abetterworldbydesign.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Goodie Bags

Our goodie bags are specially crafted for participants to make the most out of the conference! Here are a few of our awesome goodie sponsors:

Recycling and Composting

Recycling and composting are some of the best ways to reduce negative environmental impacts because they reduce the waste we send to the landfills, while regenerating trash into new materials. Better World is providing compost in partnership with EcoReps, a Brown student-run organization who works with Facilities Management to help raise environmental awareness and foster green living habits among all Brown students.

Mike Eng


2008 - 2012

RISD, 2009

Industrial Design


Sharon Langevin


2008 - Present

Brown University, 2009, Grad 2011

Electrical Engineering; International Development

Steve Daniels


2008 - Present

Brown University, 2010

Technology for Emerging Markets

Tino Chow


2008 - Present

RISD, 2009

Graphic Design


DCI Challenge

The DCI Design Challenge is sponsored by Decor Craft Inc., and is hosted by A Better World by Design as a feature of our annual conference. DCI and Better World have been working together for five years to create a platform for students and professionals to develop product solutions for real world problems. We believe that the design challenge format is a powerful way to get designers of all kinds to engage in tangible problem solving. Our challenge is open to all, and we can’t wait to see what you create.


The Prompt


We challenge you to reexamine your routine consumption of food, objects, electricity or any consumable resource. Render a product that enables consumers to reduce everyday waste, on an individual or global scale. Waste can be considered as energy, time, food, packaging, space, or any other element of consumption that inspires you. All entries will be judged by a panel of experts on quality of concept, feasibility of production, and consumer appeal. Keep in mind the size restrictions (8’ by 8’ by 8’) and material possibilities (wood pulp, silicon, bamboo, ceramics, glass).


ABWxD DCI Challenge from ABetterWorldByDesign on Vimeo.

A Better World by Design and DCI



A Better World by Design has brought together students from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design to promote the use of design principles as a tool to bridge academic and professional fields across disciplines.

Decor Craft Inc. (DCI) is a Providence-based consumer product design and distribution company, uniting fashion and function through innovation. DCI acknowledges the necessity for sustainable practices in the consumer goods market, and they are seeking to create products that address this by incorporating responsible manufacturing practices and materials in their designs.



The judging panel is a combination of professional and academic designers, industry professionals, and A Better World by Design community members.



Professional Panel:

Andy Law
RISD Industrial Design Associate Professor

Soojung Ham
RISD Industrial Design Department Head and Associate Professor

Gregor Mittersinker
Loft, Llc Co-Founder and Principal and RISD Industrial Design Adjunct Professor

Christina Bertoni
RISD Foundation Studies Professor and Advising Coordinator

Tony Morettini
IBM Business Unit Executive and RI Senior State Executive

Gregory Victory
RISD Student Affairs Associate Vice President and Career Center Director

Isaac Blankensmith
RISD Industrial Design ’13, ABWxD 2010 (Vice Chair)-2012 Committee Coordinator, and currently a Google Creative Lab Designer



Student Panel:

Maeve Jopson
2013 DCI Challenge 1st Place Winner, RISD Industrial Design ’13, and Co-Founder of Increment

Mary Yining Shao
2013 DCI Challenge 2nd Place Winner and RISD Industrial Design ’14

Patricia Dranoff
RISD Industrial Design ’15

Megan Wu
RISD Industrial Design ’15

Grace Yoon
RISD Industrial Design ’15

Zoe Clark
RISD Industrial Design ’15

Nicolas Sholz
RISD Industrial Design ’15

Riley Sykes
RISD Industrial Design ’16


Work will be reviewed and critiqued by a panel of judges selected by ABWxD from the list on this website.

The top five designers will be invited to come to the 2014 A Better World by Design conference in Providence, RI to show their work and for the final round of judging.

      3-day pass is included
Student or professional housing can be arranged
Travel can be covered or subsidized

The top 3 designs will receive cash prizes of:

      1st place: $1000
2nd place: $500
3rd place: $250

The 1st place winner will work with DCI to develop the idea further. If possible, that revised design will then be produced and distributed by DCI. The designer’s name will be featured on the product online, in print, and on the product’s packaging.


There will be workshops held in the coming months at the Brown Design Workshop!

We’ll let you know when they are set.

Submission Process

The submission process is structured to guide the design process and give our judges the opportunity to give you feedback along the way.

Round 1: What’s your idea?

Round 1

 This stage is for getting an idea out of your head. Download the submission form here. Fill it in, however you would like, then email it back to us at submit@abetterworldbydesign.com.

You can:

     Create your renderings on a computer, and insert them into the form.
Scribble them on a napkin, and scan them into the form.
Make a sketch model, and take pictures of it to insert in the form.

Whatever is the best way for you to get your first sketch out there, do that. Remember that the judges are just looking for your ideas at this stage, so don’t feel like a polished final design is necessary.



 The top designs will be selected to go on to the next round. You will be notified on July 29th if your design is selected. Your submission will be returned with feedback from the first round of judges.



Round 2: Reflect, revise, and personalize

Round 2

This is when you get to implement the feedback you receive and further develop your idea.

Submit your revised idea in a PDF format.

The top five submissions after this round will be invited to come to the 2014 A Better World by Design conference in Providence, RI on September 19 to present their ideas to the final panel of judges. Submissions will be returned to submitters beforehand with feedback from the judges.

DEADLINE: August 26th

Round 3: The crit of all crits

Round 3

In this stage, you will present your idea to the final judges during a workshop at the 2014 A Better World by Design conference this September. You will have a set time limit, a projector, and whatever else you need to get your idea across in that time. Accommodations will be taken care of through A Better World by Design.

Mailing Address

A Better World by Design

69 Brown St

Providence, RI 02912

Box 5016


For general enquiries:

For partnership enquiries:

For media enquiries:

Volunteering at Better World

Please fill out this form if you want to volunteer at the 2014 conference!


To thank you for your time, all volunteers who complete their committed hours (1-2 hours in the two weeks preceding the conference and 5-6 hours during the conference) will be given a free ticket to attend the conference, a volunteer t-shirt, and the chance to become a part of the global community of ABWxD innovators.


Please email us at volunteers@abetterworldbydesign.com with any questions or concerns.



A Better World by Design was founded in 2008 by Brown University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and continues to be a collaboration among EWB, Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and communities in Providence.

About Us


Each year, Better World by Design brings a global community of innovators to Providence, Rhode Island to reach across disciplines and unite under a common goal: building a better world. Presenters share engaging stories, workshops teach creative skills, and discussions re-frame perspectives. Better World is an immersive experience that deepens our understanding of the power of design, technology, and enterprise to engage our communities and sustain our environment.


Better World by Design was started in 2008 by Steve Daniels and Sharon Langevin of Brown University Engineers Without Borders and Mike Eng and Tino Chow from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The annual conference is completely student-organized and attracts thousands from all corners of the world. We have developed a collaborative platform to encourage the free sharing of ideas across disciplines and professional levels. Engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, academics, and students form lasting connections that lead to real-world change.


We have built a worldwide network of social innovators because we believe in thinking globally and acting locally. As we build our global presence, we continue to strengthen our relationships to create impact in our immediate communities. Better World has worked with the local Providence community since the beginning. Advisors such as Andy Cutler from Cutler and Company have broadened our reach, mentored student organizers, and introduced us to opportunities for partnership. We are also involved with companies and organizations like AS220, Mercury Print and Mail, The Steel Yard, Ximedica and the Providence city government.


By collaborating with thought-leading students, academics, and professionals, Better World by Design continues to foster mutually enriching exchange and be a strong presence in the fields of sustainable and socially-conscious design.

Cutler and Company


Cutler & Company is a communications design firm specializing in message development, content development, conference/event production, branding, social media and media relations. In 2013, Cutler & Company also launched Smaller Cities Unite!, a venture that aims to connect creative talent, entrepreneurs, students, government and the academic community between cities with populations under 1.5 million.


Smaller Cities Unite! was founded on the premise of cultivating the question of What if….What if smaller cities (and their residents) explored interesting and impactful ways in which they could collaborate; thus, creating new paradigms for problem solving, product and policy development, as well as engaging its citizenry (particularly its student populations)? In other words, Smaller Cities Unite! is a platform that wishes to explore a new form of citizen diplomacy—one that is based on trust, respect and action; proving to the world that smaller cities can align quickly, open their networks easily, and create new kinds of relationships leading to unique forms of engagement fast!


Smaller cities understand and work within the confines of their size each and every day. Size matters, and smaller cities have the power to enlist professional (and personal) networks in order to bolster ideation and ultimately create meaningful change quicker than their larger counterparts.

Brown Undergraduate Finance Board


The Undergraduate Finance Board serves as a source of funding and financial advisory to Category III student groups on campus. UFB draws from the student activities fees to budget among over one hundred-twenty Category III groups and fifty Category II groups. UFB is a 12-member board of Brown students, with 8 members, the Chair, and the Vice Chair elected by campus-wide direct election to one-year terms at the end of spring semester. Our purpose is to support financially, and to the greatest extent possible given limited resources, every eligible student group in order for it to meet its goals based on its needs.



3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious products. Our culture of creative collaboration inspires a never-ending stream of powerful technologies that make life better. We never stop inventing. With $30 billion in sales, 3M employs about 88,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.3M.com or follow on Twitter @3Minnovation

The Social Innovation Initiative at Brown University

A key program of the Swearer Center for Public Service, the Social Innovation Initiative supports students with innovative ideas for social change through cross-disciplinary courses, student-led initiatives, support for new ventures, and connections to jobs, internships, and other opportunities to apply learning. The Social Innovation Fellowship, now in its fifth year, provides 15-20 students with up to $4,000 to grow a social venture over the summer, supported by a year of intensive skills training, complementary coursework, and a community of social entrepreneurs on campus offering mentorship and critique.

Green Dot

Green Dot Holdings LLC is a bioscience social enterprise headquartered in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. The company serves the plastics industry and style conscious consumers with a full line of biobased and compostable materials sold under the Terratek® brand name. They believe that sustainable products start with good design, and they’re eager to introduce designers to the possibilities offered by these new innovative materials. Green Dot aspires to improve the environment in which we live by building a more sustainable world with renewable biobased resins and promoting their use through invention, creation and research.


Autodesk–a world leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software–empowers people to imagine, design, and create a better world. The company’s top four software suites are now available for free to nonprofits throughout North America. Learn more at http://www.autodesk.com/technologyimpact.

Bixby International

Bixby International is a custom thermoplastic sheet extruder and laminator located in the historic seaport city of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Founded more than 135 years ago in Haverhill, Massachusetts as a footwear manufacturer, Bixby has a long, rich history. Bixby prides itself on being a company that cares about its people and the surrounding community. One of Bixby’s core values is our strong Corporate Social Responsibility. It also recognizes that excellence is a journey, not a destination. It is ISO 9001:2008 certified. This is not just a certification for Bixby, but a dynamic program that it uses everyday to improve its quality and customer service. In addition, Bixby has a very successful Continuous Improvement program that relies on the principles of Lean Manufacturing (Kaizen, 5S, Kanban, Visual Work Place, etc.).

Brown University School of Engineering

Brown University’s School of Engineering educates future leaders in the fundamentals of engineering in an environment of world-class research. It stresses an interdisciplinary approach and a broad understanding of underlying global issues. Collaborations across the University campus and beyond strengthen our development of technological advances that address challenges of vital importance to us all. This year, the School of Engineering is partnering with A Better World by Design to create new bridges of knowledge and experience between engineering and design. The two organizations will collaborate throughout the year to integrate the two discipline areas through a variety of new initiatives such as the MakerSpace.

RISD Careers

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has earned an international reputation as the leading college of art and design in the United States. Recently ranked #1 in Business Insider’s survey of The World’s 25 Best Design Schools, approximately 2,400 students from around the world study at RISD, pursuing full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 studio majors. RISD is known for its phenomenal faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on, studio-based approach to learning – one in which critical thinking informs making works by hand. Through the accomplishments of its 26,000 alumni, the college champions the vital role artists and designers play in satisfying the global demand for innovation.  For more information, visit www.risd.edu or our.risd.edu.

Sappi Fine Paper North America

Sappi Fine Paper North America is the preeminent producer of coated fine paper in North America. In addition to being responsible for many industry firsts, Sappi strongly values sustainability, responsible production and supporting social good initiatives. Sappi continues to invest in projects to reduce solid waste, wastewater and air emissions, and improve water and energy utilization. Since 1999, Sappi’s Ideas that Matter program has awarded over $12 million in grants to designers to support their work for nonprofit programs and organizations.  Beyond partnering with A Better World by Design 2013, Sappi is represented on the Sustainable Design panel by its Director of Sustainability and Technical Marketing, Laura Thompson, Ph. D.


gravitytank is an innovation consultancy. We help clients grow their businesses, define breakthrough products and services, enter new markets and strengthen their positions. Clients come to us to do things like clarify customers’ needs, reinvigorate a brand, or disrupt an industry. We ask productive questions and pursue meaningful answers—uncovering what people truly need and want. We have a bias for action—making ideas tangible to learn from them. And, we build the conviction necessary to sustain new thinking.

Pacific Shaving Company


At Pacific Shaving Company, we believe that sustainable business practices and environmentally responsible manufacturing are just as important as the products we make. Founded in 2002, our goal was clear: radically improve the shaving experience. The result is a line of safe, natural, eco-friendly shaving essentials that break through the barriers that give shaving a bad name. Manufactured in the USA, our concentrated formulas mean fewer raw materials, less waste, and fewer carbon emissions throughout the supply chain. We also plant a tree for every purchase, offsetting the minimal packaging materials we do use.



Runa is a Brooklyn-based social enterprise that sells beverages made from guayusa, an Amazonian superleaf. Runa is proud to work with over 2,000 indigenous farming families in Ecuador to make organic, Fair Trade, non-GMO drinks that balance as much caffeine as coffee with twice the antioxidants of green tea. This combination provides you with a focused, sustained, and clean energy to power you through your day. Guayusa grows in biodiverse forest gardens that stimulate environmentally sustainable economic development. Runa’s “Clean Energy” is our promise that every aspect of your drink is enlivening, energizing, healthy, socially conscious, and muy delicioso.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Have you been thinking about changing your designs, changing your perspective, and changing our world? The Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s newly launched, two-year Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program may be a good fit for you. MCAD’s MA is offered 100% online and caters to busy working professionals so that you may work, live, and learn from where ever you are located in the world. Students gain theory, practice, and leadership skills and real-world experience to solve humanity’s most pressing challenges through a groundbreaking program that is underpinned by biomimicry, systems thinking, life cycle analysis, and collaborative problem solving. Contact us at sustainable_design@mcad.edu or visit mcad.edu/sustainable to learn more.


Established in 1935, Perkins+Will is a global interdisciplinary design firm founded on the belief that design has the power to transform lives and enhance society. Social responsibility is fundamental to the firm’s approach, and every year Perkins+Will donates one percent of its services to non-profit organizations. In addition, its pioneering tools, expansive green building portfolio, nearly 1,000 LEED Accredited Professionals, and commitment to the 2030 Challenge all make Perkins+Will one of the industry’s preeminent sustainable design firms. As a first-time sponsor of A Better World be Design, Perkins+Will is thrilled to be joining this growing community of socially-conscious innovators.


In everything we do at Mohawk, we’re committed to being part of the solutions. Designers and printers have always turned to Mohawk when they want to make beautiful print. Social responsibility is woven into the fabric of our culture. Today, the fourth generation of the O’Connor family is looking ahead to the future offering a diverse palette of highly regarded recycled, carbon neutral, FSC papers manufactured with a net zero climate impact. We accept our responsibility to create a sustainable business, and commit ourselves to a leadership role in reducing the environmental impact of our business practices. Mohawk has always celebrated passionate people in this industry who use print to make a difference, to market a business, for a cause, or simply to make something lasting and beautiful.

Check-in Locations

Friday, Sept 19   |   8.30 – 9.30 am

Chace Center
Rhode Island School of Design
224 Benefit St
Providence, RI


Saturday, Sept 20 or Sunday, Sept 21   |    8 – 9am

Salomon Hall

Brown University
69 Brown St
Providence, RI

What to Bring

– umbrella
– comfortable walking shoes
– water bottle/reusable mug
– your smartphone/other device, and charger

Getting Here

By Train


If you are arriving from Boston, you can reach Providence Station via the MBTA train (Providence/Stoughton line of the Commuter Rail). This will take a little over an hour.



If you are arriving from other cities, you can take an Amtrak train to Providence Station.

By Bus


Megabus offers buses leaving from New York to Providence. It picks you up from 34th St between 11th Ave and 12th Ave, and drops you off at Kennedy Plaza.



Peter Pan offers buses leaving from both New York (Port Authority) and Boston (South Station) to Providence. Be sure to select the Kennedy Plaza stop as it is a short walk from campus.

Where to Stay

The Hampton Inn


The ABWxD 2013 hotel is The Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Providence. Click here to book a room.



Airbnb is an online service that matches people with rooms to rent for short term stays, outside the domain of professional hoteliers.

Providence Hotels


Providence has many other hotels, from the historic Biltmore to familiar chains like Westin and Marriott. For a comprehensive listing of Providence hotels, take a look at Trip Advisor’s Providence hotel directory.

Getting Around

Public Transportation


The RIPTA bus service is a great way to get around Providence. All buses leave from Kennedy Plaza. The 92 Green Line Trolley goes directly through campus from downtown Providence.

Cab Companies

Airport Taxi (401) 737-2868
Big Daddy Taxi (401) 578-8182
Checker Cab (401) 273-2222
Corporate Taxi (401) 231-2228
Economy Cab (401) 944-6700
Yellow Cab (401) 941-1122

How you can go Green

As part of ABWxD’s effort to be as sustainable as possible, we ask that you please use our mobile site during the conference if you have a smartphone or web-enabled device.


Each attendee will receive their very own mason jar and Cuppow lid. in our efforts to reduce paper waste, these jars are provided for you to enjoy the delicious hot beverages served throughout the conference. Washing areas will be stationed at our lounge for a quick rinse and fresh cup o’ joe!


We also encourage participants to bring their own reusable water bottles from home. By refilling your bottles at the various drinking stations around Brown and RISD, you are contributing to a larger effort to keep our campuses PET-free! (include link to ‘bring back the bottle’ campaign)


Lastly, please be aware of the different garbage collections throughout the conference. We have taken special care to ensure that all waste is disposed of properly and we hope you do the same! Should participants have questions regarding recycling, composting or any sort of trash, a volunteer will guide you to the right bin!


To find out more about how we’re greening our conference, do visit our Eco-logistics page.