Thank you to all the amazing participants of the THE PEPPER CANYON MOBILITY HUB DESIGNATHON!

250+ participants came together on a giant tent on Warren Mall to develop proposals to transform the Pepper Canyon Trolley Station on UC San Diego’s campus, currently under construction, into a multimodal mobility hub. Interdisciplinary students, neighbors, and future transit users from UC San Diego and across the city were joined 50 mentors from academy, industry, and government across design, tech, and planning fields.

Brought to you by UC San Diego DESIGN LAB, SANDAG, UC San Diego Campus Planning, UC San Diego Urban Studies and Planning Program, the Young Planners Society, Lime, and Sixth College Culture Art Technology.*

*Fulfills Culture, Art Technology (CAT) Co-Curricular + Art +Tech Event (10) CREDITS!


THE PEPPER CANYON MOBILITY HUB DESIGNATHON will focus on the Pepper Canyon Station, which aspires to be an ecologically, socially, and technologically friendly mobility hub. While the station is in the process of being built, the designathon will propose physical and digital designs, policies and protocols, art and culture interventions, and short term and future multimodal augmentations for the station that make it a better place for users and the environment at large. Projects will apply the tenets of placemaking, multimodal transportation, technology, public health and well-being, and innovation, encouraging Pepper Canyon Station’s development as an excellent example and model for mobility hubs in San Diego and beyond.

DESIGNATHONS are intensive, immersive events where interdisciplinary teams design solutions to real world challenges. Designathons deploy user-centered design techniques including observation, prototyping, testing, iteration, and storytelling. Our design process encourages empathy and access for all kinds of mobility users and participants.

Undergraduates, graduate students, high school students, neighbors, designers, engineers, technologists, media-makers, planners, artists, future users, and youth were all welcome to participate. Teams include 3-7 participants: fully-formed teams, partial teams, and individuals are welcome to register.

DESIGNATHONS invite teams to develop visionary concepts, designs, and prototypes that solve real-world problems over the course of a few days. Inspired by the hackathon model of rapid creation through a spirit of collaboration and competition, DESIGNATHONS incorporate human-centered design principles of observing users, understanding deep problems, combining evidence and experience, testing and iteration. Mentors, judges, and partners from academia, industry and public institutions support the team’s design and technical process and throughout the event. The first DESIGNATHON on the topic of People-Centered Mobility was held in partnership with MIT City Science in October 2018.

UC San Diego Chancellor Khosa is committed to reduce GHG emissions from commuting by 2% per year (based on the previous year’s emissions) from 2009 to 2050 by continuing to decrease the number of single-occupant vehicle commuters. The Multimodal Mobility Hub will be aligned with UC San Diego values and goals, including support for public health and well-being, minimizing the ecological footprint, and demonstrating the experimental, non-traditional approach of the university.


The goal of designathon projects is to increase mobility between the light rail trolley station and the broader UC San Diego campus.

3 major focus areas: (projects might draw upon one or a few of these areas, composing proposals for the near or far future, immediately deployable to speculative propositions)

    • Services + Programs > Station Services and Resources, Transportation Services (shared mobility, micro transit, NEVs, etc.) Programs and Policies to inspire and incentivize Trolley Use and Campus Connectivity, Art and Creative Interventions
    • Tech and Data Solutions > Hardware and software including Apps, Wifi, Mobile Charging Stations, Mobile services, Logistics Solutions, Data Strategies, Digital amenities that might also have a physical/data visualizations counterpart
    • Urban Design Solutions > Transportation Infrastructure (bike and ped facilities), dedicated space for micromobility parking, passenger pick-up and drop off, ev charging, ecological augmentations, and mobility access points throughout campus

Final Submissions might look like: pdf with designs and drawings, written narratives with visual illustrations, prototypes (low or hi-fi), plans or strategies, videos or films



9-10 Breakfast + Final Team Formation Session

10-11 Welcome + Orientation

11:00-1 Ideation + Observation

1-2 Lunch

2-3 Feedback: Roundtable Session

3-6 Design Development, Prototyping + Testing

5:30-6 Optional Lime Joyride

6-7 Dinner

7-9 Work Session


9-9:30 Breakfast

9:30 Announcements and rapid storytelling workshop

10-12 Work Session

12-1 Feedback: Presentation Session

1-2 Lunch

2-5 Work Session

5 Submissions Deadline!

5:15-6:15 Final Presentations

6-7 Dinner

6:40 Announcements + Finalists decisions

7-8 Finalists Present to Public

8-8:15 Dessert

8:30 Winners Announced!

8-9 Celebration

**Event continues through both days...participants come and go as schedules demand.


Teams are required to learn some basics of human-centered design and specifics about the site locations beforehand. Watch the three information videos below to prepare for the designathon.

Link to the resources folder including data, campus plans, and Sandag mobility guides here.


Mirle Rabinowitz Bussell is a faculty member in the Urban Studies and Planning Program where she directs its new real estate and development major. She has degrees in architecture and urban planning and focuses much of her research on housing and community development in underserved neighborhoods.

Raeanon (Rae) Hartigan is a Principal Planner in the UC San Diego Campus Planning office. She focuses on projects at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University Center, Pepper Canyon Neighborhood, and East Campus as well planning issues related to housing, mobility and health and wellness. Prior to joining the Planning office in 2007 she worked as an Urban Planner for a local architecture firm. She has served on the Ocean Beach Planning Board and holds a Master of Science in International Affairs from Florida State University and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Cal Poly Pomona. When she's not working she enjoys being outdoors with her family.

Antoinette Meier is a Principal Regional Planner in the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Department of Operations. She serves as the manager of the Transportation Demand Management program and is responsible for leading innovative transportation programs and services that reduce traffic congestion and improve mobility for the San Diego region. Antoinette is spearheading efforts to advance shared mobility and integrate emerging technologies into regional transportation plans, projects, and services. This includes leading the establishment of the San Diego Regional Proving Ground and development and implementation of a Regional Mobility Hub Strategy. Prior to joining SANDAG, Antoinette managed community and economic development programs in both the San Diego region and the City of Seattle. She has a Masters Degree in City Planning and is an AICP certified planner.

Michèle Morris is passionate about human-centered design, strategic leadership, and high-impact innovation, all drivers in her current positions as the Associate Director of the DesignLab, UC San Diego, founding board member of the Design Forward Alliance, and principal at HardPoint Solutions consulting firm. For over 20 years, she has provided strategic, operational, and training support to organizations and executives around the world, to include serving over a decade in the United States Secret Service. Michèle is an accomplished instructor and facilitator, serving multiple leading institutions including Stanford’s, The Design Academy and USD’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.



Judges will be looking for excellence in the following areas, using the considerations below to determine the designathon teams who will receive funds to continue project development.

A clearly-defined Problem: Teams provide a clear description of the particular problem they address, or define the opportunity for mobility hubs their project takes on. Teams show how this problem was determined through evidence of existing conditions (e.g. interviews with users, image, videos, plans etc.) or forecasted based on social and technological development trends. Responses to Mobility Hub challenges from SANDAG and Campus planning (transit accessibility, integrated mobility, equity) are encouraged, but other general or specific problems for mobility hubs can also be identified. Teams should identify, whenever possible, the specific subset(s) of users their projects support.

An excellent design Process: Teams should demonstrate a smart human-centered design process that includes thinking, observing, testing, and iterating. This should include observations of people in the world that help identify problems and interactions. It will probably include prototypes (low or hi fi) or simulations that test proposed solutions in the real world with people who are as close to the intended target users as possible, to help understand possible behaviors, interactions, and outcomes of the proposal. Value is placed on observing, testing and iterating on designs by learning from engagement with the real world, not only the results or findings.

A well-articulated Proposal: The Proposition addresses the defined problem through a proposition/ story that articulates and visualizes the design problem, proposition, and process. Propositions might include photos, videos, drawings, audio, writing, and prototypes for proof of concept. Documentation of attempted solutions—and iterations—aimed at addressing the identified problem and capturing the design process are encouraged.


Bus lines to Gilman Transit Center include 30. 50, Rapid 101/102 and 921. NCTD Bus Route 101.



Warren Mall, in a large tent. Rain or shine.

For GPS directions to the Warren Mall area, use this Google Map link:

PARKING at UC San Diego campus is extremely limited and inconvenient. We strongly recommend attendees who live off campus take public transit or rideshares, as campus has a number of events that weekend.


Due to the Triton 5K on Sunday, April 7, from 7:30 AM - 10:30 AM, there will be some road closures on campus and no access to the Hopkins Parking Structure during that time. If you arrive after 10:30 AM, access to the Hopkins Parking Structure will be available again.

Please see map for details regarding road closures on Sunday, April 7:


Use the hashtag #DESIGNATHONUCSD at the event and tag us in your posts!

Connect with us on social media:




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Questions? Ideas? Concerns? Sponsors? Partners?

Get in touch at

A very special thanks to our DESIGNATHON team: Michele Morris, Erik Mumm, Nina Baker, Stephanie Sherman, Elizabeth Owen, Stephanie Ellsworth, Lindsey Volz, Danielle Kochman, Antoinette Meier, Raeanon Hartigan, Sofia Nelson-Ferezi, and the Young Planners' Society.


Space is limited. Registration spots are first come, first served. Early birds will be eligible for special sponsor prizes. Participants are expected to attend the event to the fullest of their capacityx.


Monday March 11th @ 5PM (earlybird registration: special prizes and mentor opportunities!)

Tuesday March 26 @ 5PM (general registration)


Individuals, incomplete teams, or complete teams are invited to register. We recommend teams include 3-7 people, and involve at least one designer, one engineer/builder/planner, and one storyteller. For individuals and incomplete teams, we will create connections with other registrants based on expressed interests and skills. Saturday from 9-10am will be a final opportunity for team connection and recomposition.

IMPORTANT!!!! All team members must fill out a separate registration form to help us keep track of event food and provisions. If you are part of a partial or complete team, please identify a temporary team name that can help us group you with others on your team when you register.

Please note that all projects created as part of the Designathon will be open-source, in the public domain, and shared with SANDAG, Federal Transit Authority, Campus Planning, and the Design Lab. A publication of projects will be published free access online. In every case, students will be credited for their work.


Monday April 1st 5-7pm TEAM FORMATION SESSION @ CSE 1242 (Computer Science and Engineering Building) This event invites those registrants who registered as an individual or team looking for other members to participate in a process that will help connect you with others sharing interests and bringing diverse talents.

Scroll below to view videos from the Pepper Canyon Designathon Info Session.


Feb 28 11-1 PM @ UCSD DESIGN LAB. Live-Recording of the Video Info Session with Don Norman (UC San Diego Design Lab), Marisa Mangan (SANDAG), Raeanon (Rae) Hartigan (UC San Diego Campus Planning). Live participants will meet judges and can ask questions. This session will be posted online to become a virtual info session later. RSVP HERE.

Feb 28 6-7:30 PM @ Snakepath Room Price Center. Young Planners' Society hosts a student info session and discussion about the Designathon. Free food!