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Fast Company Recognizes ID for World Changing Ideas in Urban Design, Healthcare, and More

May 2, 2023

World Changing Ideas
ID Earns Accolades in Three Categories

Fast Company has announced the honorees of its seventh annual World Changing Ideas Awards. World Changing Ideas focus on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. Among them are four distinct projects born at ID, honored in the categories of Urban Design, Politics and Policy, and Student Projects:

  1. Reimagining the Resident-Government Relationship, honorable mention in the categories of Urban Design and Politics and Policy.
  2. Rainwater Collective, finalist in the Students category.
  3. Neoguard, honorable mention in the Students category.
  4. Osmo, honorable mention in the Students category.
It’s thrilling to see the creativity and innovation that are so abundant among this year’s honorees. While it’s easy to feel discouraged by the state of the world, the entrepreneurs, companies, and nonprofits featured in this package show the limitless potential to address society’s most urgent problems.
—Brendan Vaughan, Editor-in-Chief, Fast Company

Together, these ID projects take on some of the most urgent concerns of our time: healthcare access, equity in cities, water scarcity, and inattention.

Honored three times in the Students category, ID earned more finalist honors than any other school, including the Savannah College of Art & Design (two projects), Umeå Institute of Design (two projects), Syracuse University, and others.

ID’s recognition beyond the Students category — in the areas of Urban Design and Policy and Planning — demonstrates that our efforts in addressing global challenges are being recognized alongside the groundbreaking initiatives of top entrepreneurs and companies worldwide.

The issues design needs to address today affect entire communities, systems, and regions. That's why design can't work alone to address them. We must, as our students and faculty have here, partner with government and business entities that can benefit from fresh ideas and help us accelerate the pace of change.
—Anijo Mathew, Dean, Institute of Design

Reimagining the Resident-Government Relationship

Graphic of a city street

In Reimagining the Resident-Government Relationship, students partnered with the City Clerk’s office as part of Charles L. Owen Professor of Design Carlos Teixeira‘s Sustainable Solutions Workshop. With the aim of creating a more equitable and sustainable city, the team found ways to reform revenue policies and practices to make Chicago safer, healthier, and easier to navigate for both drivers and pedestrians.

Rainwater Collective

Rainwater Collective Flow Graphic

Rainwater Collective, a student project advised by Associate Professor Mark Jones, is a stormwater collection and support service for Chicago homeowners. The service seeks to tie the longer-term threat of a freshwater deficit with current-day concerns by facilitating a public–private collaboration and community involvement.


Woman wearing a medical arm band

Neopenda device

Neoguard, a student project advised by Associate Professor Marty Thaler, incorporates 4-in-1 vitals monitoring technology into a device that can be worn by patients of all ages. Students also devised a rent-based business model and strategies for entering the African market, where getting to a hospital can be a two-hour journey and less than half of the population has access to the healthcare services they need.


Red and green ferrofluid

Osmo, a student project advised by Assistant Professor Zach Pino, is a low-resolution desk display made of ferrofluid and LED lights that presents an alternative to constant pings, only capturing user attention when absolutely necessary. Named after the slow diffusion process of Osmosis, Osmo similarly diffuses information from one’s mobile device.

To tackle global issues, ID students and faculty have started thinking locally—on Chicago’s South Side, in our municipal district, and on our Mies van der Rohe campus at Illinois Tech. By combining a systems outlook with expertise in human-centered design, ID simultaneously works to improve both individual experiences and system efficacy. These are ideas with great potential, and we invite partners to help us scale these efforts.

This 2023 recognition marks the fifth year in a row that ID’s socially responsible work has been recognized by the leading technology, business, and design magazine. Previous World-Changing Ideas at ID include Anti-Racist Pop-Ups, Redesigning Education Materials for Incarcerated Women, and Designing Microgrids as a Civic Infrastructure.

These 2023 ID honorees were selected from over 2,200 entries from around the globe. You can view ID’s honored projects alongside other honorees at Fast Company‘s website.