Can architecture and design students help mitigate the impact of COVID-19? The organizers of a program to promote the best designs by students from colleges and universities in more than 40 countries, think so.

The Dubai-based Global Grad Show, which mounts a competition and exhibition each fall, has announced a special “open call” for proposals that address the pandemic. Entries might be designed to “enhance the efficiency of home-quarantine; increase treatment capacity and screening methods; mitigate contagious behaviors; or enable collaborative disease data collection and processing,” the organizers say. Submissions are due on April 2. A team of judges (including design, tech and health professionals as well as potential investors) will choose the most promising projects in time for an April 16 announcement. The only restriction is that entrants must be affiliated with a college or university—architecture schools included. (Student winners will receive a year’s tuition; professors will receive the equivalent in grants.)

2019 Global Grad Show

The Global Grad Show, sponsored by a Dubai government investment group, will also offer winners help in developing, testing, and promoting their ideas, in the hopes of bringing them to market quickly. Brendan McGetrick, the curator who created the Global Grad Show in 2015, said it has focused on designs that address “the most pressing issues of our time: how to increase access to healthcare, education, food, and shelter; how to encourage exchange and build community; how to reduce waste and decrease our carbon footprints. All of these challenges have been made more urgent than ever by coronavirus.”

McGetrick said the number of winning projects has been left up to the judges (this writer served as a juror in 2018). “Any project that shows real promise and relevance will be selected,” he said.