Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) has announced the fourth season of DIDI Project Design Space (PDS), the UAE’s largest annual student design competition.

More than 4,500 students from 100 schools across the UAE are participating in the event – an increase of 26% on last year’s event. The contestants received five diverse challenges from Nike, LEGO Middle East, Emirates Nature-WWF, RAKBANK and Dubai Festival City Mall that span the fields of interior design, user interface design, retail, community engagement and the natural world.

The innovative after-school programme was developed by DIDI, which offers a four-year design course with a curriculum crafted in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The New School’s Parsons School of Design. The event offers a unique opportunity for students from grades 5 to 12 across different curriculums to solve real-world design challenges while enhancing their knowledge of design as an academic discipline and growing industry sector.

Running until April 2020, DIDI Project Design Space seeks to inspire students to think like designers and develop prototype solutions that might be considered for implementation. The competition aligns with DIDI’s objective of creating a unique learning experience for young designers.

Mohammad Abdulla, president of DIDI, said: “DIDI’s mandate is to develop the design sector in the UAE and the wider region in line with the country’s growth vision. We have seen a positive uptake in the past few editions with a growing number of schools and corporates coming on board. The fourth edition of DIDI Project Design Space will enable aspiring professionals to understand design thinking early on, in addition to connecting them with renowned entities in the field that can help advance their professional careers.”

Peter England, CEO of RAKBANK, said: “Our strategic collaboration with DIDI helps us bring diverse project ideas to life as well as creates an educational yet fun experience for all participants. This partnership highlights our strong ambition to identify innovative opportunities that meet our existing and future customers’ needs. We anticipate a strong outcome and look forward to reflecting our business objectives through the creative projects.”

Dzila Dik, marketing manager at Lego Middle East, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with DIDI PDS where we not only support many individuals but also look at creating a space for further innovation. Our collaboration will strongly benefit our store customers and visitors who will get an exclusive opportunity to view our upcoming products before making any purchase. This edition looks quite promising and we look forward to a successful event.”

Schools from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain have joined DIDI’s biggest Project Design Space to date. The six-month programme started in November 2019, when teachers were briefed on the client challenges by DIDI. Students have until March 2020 to complete the assignment during four after-school sessions.

All participants are required to submit their solutions for review by March 1, 2020. Shortlisted teams will attend a boot camp on 21 March, where they will receive extensive feedback to enhance their prototypes from DIDI faculty and the five challenge providers. Students will also undergo coaching for the final round of the competition. The last stage of the UAE’s largest design competition will be held on April  18, 2020, and includes final presentations from the student teams, followed by an announcement of the winners.