The UC San Diego Designathon 1.0 & 2.0: Civic Engagement for the Improvement of University Public Spaces received the Academic Award from the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association. UC San Diego is in the midst of a $5 billion, decade-long expansion to accommodate an increased student population and the growth of research and educational capabilities. Although this growth includes a Blue Line Trolley connection and is certainly necessary, current students have felt the burden of ongoing construction and haven’t felt connected to the planning process. The Young Planners Society (YPS), UC San Diego’s Planning Student Organization housed within the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (USP), served as the student leadership team in facilitating two hackathon-style charrettes, or Designathons at UC San Diego between 2019 and 2020. These Designathons provided a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary student teams to work with UC San Diego staff and faculty, regional planners, and transportation engineers to create actionable planning interventions related to mobility and place making on the UC San Diego campus.

The first event, Designathon 1.0: Pepper Canyon Mobility Hub Designathon, was held jointly by YPS, USP, The UC San Diego Design Lab, UC San Diego Campus Planning, and SANDAG in April 2019. Student teams created projects related to the creation of a successful mobility hub at the Pepper Canyon Trolley Station (the connection point for UC San Diego to the regional SDMTS trolley system). The event hosted more than 230 students and 60 regional professionals (acting as mentors and guides). More than 30 successful projects were submitted, judged, and have been incorporated into the final planning processes for the station.

Following the success of Designathon 1.0, Designathon 2.0: Tactical Urbanism for Street Safety was held in January 2020 and hosted jointly by YPS, UC San Diego Transportation Services, USP, and Campus Planning. Student teams worked with professional mentors and worked with “local officials” (transportation services) to create Tactical Urbanism interventions to create a safer environment for pedestrians and micro-mobility users to move throughout the construction-filled UC San Diego campus. The event hosted more than 100 students, 20 professional mentors, and 20 campus staff members throughout the weekend.

Both of these events created a unique opportunity for students while simultaneously helping UC San Diego create a better campus for future students, staff, faculty, and visitors.