• ProtoChallenge

    A 24 hour challenge where groups of students pitch ideas to help the community and build a prototype to gain skills, find potential employers, and win over $1000 in prizes.


    Work with different types of students to research and prototype an idea from March 31 - April 1 at the University of Calgary.

  • What you'll do

    Come solo, form teams, and work in parallel with other students to research and prototype an idea.


    Pick one of four themes and pitch in your theme group. You have 1 minute to say who you are, what you're passionate about, what experience you have, and your idea.


    Groups will vote for the best pitches and winners present to everyone. Participants will join the pitch they are most excited about.


    You need to do some market research to validate your idea - why bother using something nobody wants?


    You also need to research how technically feasible your idea is -- why work on something you can't actually develop?


    Create a prototype using anything you want -- whether that's coding or using a prototype tool. We don't want to limit your ideas with tool restrictions.


    In a 5 minute concept idea presentation, describe your research and demonstrate your prototype. Afterwards there will be a 1 minute Q&A with a panel of judges & invited guests.

  • What you'll get

    In addition to an opportunity to win prizes, you also get these sweet benefits

    Show off your skills and improve your portfolio

    Incorporate multiple skills in entrepreneurial thinking, research, design, tech, and pitch presentations.

    Access our Resume Database

    Get ready to update your resume and portfolios! We're giving ProtoChallenge attendees exclusive invitations to update your resumes to the Resume Database for career opportunities to some of the best tech companies around.

    Work with different types of people

    Get practical experience and work with different types of students.


    Team members work concurrently on different tasks (market validation, technical feasibility, prototype design, pitch presentation).

    Enjoy food & sweet swag

    Who doesn't love free food? We'll provide healthy options and accommodate for all dietary restrictions. Thanks to our sponsors, we'll also be providing some sweet swag for you.

    Connect with experts

    While teams work, you'll get expert guidance from our mentors to improve your idea. They will help you by posing important questions and providing feedback.


    We have mentors from the University of Calgary, Critical Mass, Fresh Angles Inc., and more!

    Learn from the best

    Learn from industry professionals from Fresh Angles Inc. and Market Grade Inc. in our presentations.


    In the Design presentation, you will learn techniques to form a useful idea, verify its relevance and importance to the market, guidelines about making a well-designed and usable prototype.


    In the Pitch presentation, you will learn how to make a good pitch presentation and prepare for questions by the judges.

    Pitch your idea for the Calgary Tesla Award

    Win or lose, you can also compete for $2500 in the Calgary Tesla Award hosted by Skunkworks Cooperative.


    All you have to do is come twice to Skunkworks and then pitch your idea. While you're at Skunkworks, you can improve your idea and make it better.

  • Themes

    You'll pitch to open-ended themes in groups. The best pitches are voted and presented to everyone. Participants will form teams with their favourite ideas.

    Information Technology and the Internet of Things

    Towards a low carbon energy future

    The 3Cs of Radical Change: Creativity, Community, and Collaboration

    Wild card

    Other ideas that combine multiple themes, or relate to the existing themes

  • Schedule

    Exact hour of day is tentative

    Friday, March 31

    5:30 PM Registration & light dinner

    6:00 PM Opening Ceremony

    6:45 PM Pitch session

    7:45 PM Best pitches and forming teams

    8:30 PM Design presentation

    9:00 PM Team discussion

    Saturday, April 1

    8:00 AM Light breakfast

    9:00 AM Pitch presentation

    9:30 AM Team work period

    12 PM Lunch

    5:00 PM Dinner

    5:30 PM Submission cut off

    6:00 PM Final team presentations

    7:00 PM Judge deliberation

    7:30 PM Awards ceremony

    8:00 PM Photo session

  • Attendees

    Open to all gendered students early in their career



    Free for students enrolled in high school and post-secondary institutions, including undergrads, grads, and post-docs.


    We will ask to see your student ID at the door.

    New Graduates


    New grads (graduated less than 12 months) and other students taking continuing educational programs including bootcamps can attend for $5.


    We will ask you for payment at the door, so please bring cash!

  • Prizes

    Thanks to Skunkworks and Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the prizes

    First Prize


    A $1000 cheque awarded to the winning group, support to continue the idea, and more!

    Second Prize


    A $600 cheque awarded to the second place group, support to continue the idea, and more!

    Third Prize


    A $400 cheque awarded to the third place group and more!

    Most Disruptive Idea


    A $300 cheque awarded to the group (may also be eligible for first three places) and support from 656.26nm Technology Inc

  • Judging Criteria


    Teams will provide a 5 minute concept presentation with 1 minute of Q&A by a panel of judges & invited guests.


    The final judging criteria will incorporate multiple skills: market validation, technical feasibility, prototype design, and final presentation. The rubric will be available closer to the event date.



    Prizes will be awarded to the top three performing teams, judged by a panel with 1 WISE executive, 2 tech industry representatives, and 3 startup representatives.


    Another prize will be awarded for “Most Disruptive Idea”, judged by Stephen Larter from 656.28nm Technology Inc and Carrie Mah from Women in Science and Engineering.

  • Rules

    We want to provide a friendly and fair challenge for all participants

    • Bring your tools with you. Laptops, prototyping tools, coding environments, and sketchbooks.
    • Up to 10 teams of 10 participants are allowed. All team members must have registered to compete.
    • Pitch new ideas, or ideas you have not already worked on before. To keep things fair, we will all start at the same time.
    • You must present your research in a slide deck and demonstrate your prototype on a laptop in order to present. Submission cut off will be Saturday, April 1 at 5:30 PM.
    • Teams have full ownership of everything they build at our events and are free to do with it as they wish. They are encouraged to continue working on it at Skunkworks Cooperative.
  • Platinum Sponsor

    Skunkworks Cooperative & University of Calgary's Faculty of Science

    Skunkworks Cooperative is a group of innovators who talk about discovery, invention and innovation at the University of Calgary. The Faculty of Science is the place where curiosity sparks discovery.

  • Gold Sponsors

    Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

    Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

    Hunter Centre strives to teach students to develop the skills to recognize opportunities, embrace challenges and extend Calgary’s entrepreneurial “can-do” spirit while also providing them the foundations critical to starting a business.

    Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

    Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences

    The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) mandate is to promote research in and applications of the mathematical sciences, to facilitate the training of highly qualified personnel, to enrich public awareness of and education in the mathematical sciences, and to create mathematical partnerships with similar organizations in other countries (with a particular focus on the Pacific Rim).

  • Silver Sponsors



    Clio helps lawyers build a better practice.

  • Bronze Sponsors

    Lighthouse Labs

    Lighthouse Labs

    656.28nm Technology Inc.


    Critical Mass

    Critical Mass

  • Community Sponsors

  • Speakers

    Josh Malate

    Josh Malate

    Co-Founder of Fresh Angles Inc.

    Josh is a Co-Founder of Fresh Angles Inc., a consulting firm that is focused on helping small and medium sized organizations in Calgary address their most pressing business needs. Josh’s work includes business plan development, financial modelling and market analysis. From 2013-2016, Josh founded, grew and sold a real estate investment company that owned a portfolio of properties, including a 32 room hotel. Prior to his work in real estate, Josh worked as an infrastructure engineer for 4 years managing large capital projects. A lover of music, Josh serves as a Program Coordinator with the Bishop Grandin High School Music Program, Director of Rhapsody Winter Corps and currently plays in the University of Calgary Wind Ensemble. Josh is completing his MBA at the University of Calgary, holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Calgary and is a registered Professional Engineer with APEGA.

    Kris Hans

    Strategist of Market Grade Ltd.

    Kris is an ideas generator capable of turning dreams into reality and truly a social entrepreneur. He continues to undertake diverse roles and responsibilities that bring his skills and experience to serve Calgary’s many communities — a testament to the value that he places on civic participation and social enterprise.

    Currently, Kris is Co-Founder and Strategist at Market Grade, an interdisciplinary marketing and design consultancy, and W21C‘s inaugural Entrepreneur in Residence at the O’Brien Institute of Public Health, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. Kris teaches Business Management, Strategic Planning and Economics for Business at the University of Calgary and Business Communications at Mount Royal University. He has also taught Entrepreneurship and Marketing in the past, and continues to work with students and start-up ventures to help grow their businesses and diversify the Alberta economy.

  • Registration

    You must register on Eventbrite to qualify for ProtoChallenge. Registration closes Thursday, March 30 at 5 PM.


    If you have any questions, please email us!