Creating a Better San José: The Paseo Prototyping Challenge

Creating a Better San José: The Paseo Prototyping Challenge

paseo-profileSan José State University’s College of Humanities and the Arts is proud to be leading a campus-wide effort to encourage interdisciplinary work focused on civic engagement. In partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Intel, Microsoft, Autodesk, and The Tech Museum of Innovation, we have kicked off the 2016-17 Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge and Festival. This two-part event began by posing the question to SJSU students from across the disciplines to form teams to answer the question: “What will you create to make the city of San José an incredible place to live, work, and play?”

Designed to encourage students to plan and think about relevant social and environmental issues and their possible solutions, the Challenge relies on multidisciplinary collaboration and technological innovation. The project, which launched at the Hammer Theatre on September 21, featured Sid Espinosa of Microsoft, Danny Harris of the Knight Foundation, project lead Craig Hobbs, and the College of H&A’s own Dean Lisa Vollendorf speaking to students, answering questions about the challenge, and inspiring students to take a role in shaping the future of our city.

“San José needs you. We need your ideas, your creativity, and your dedication to making this city better,” said Harris, local program officer of the Knight Foundation. Dean Vollendorf agreed and emphasized the need for students from all disciplines to come together to solve the world’s problems. “Twenty-first century problems need twenty-first century solutions,” said Vollendorf at the event. “Those solutions only will come if we pool our resources and our skills, if we collaborate to inspire creative, innovative solutions for the future.”

The challenge invites twenty-five interdisciplinary teams of students who have been selected by a competitive review-process headed by SJSU’s expert faculty and industry professionals to envision and create a better future for San José. Outfitted with $1,000 seed money and information from a public opinion survey with insight into what issues need to be addressed in downtown San José, the teams are currently turning their civic visions into reality. Focusing on concepts such as homelessness, public safety, and transportation, these teams will concentrate on transforming San José into a more socially aware city, building connections between the diverse communities and groups of people that call San José home.

The culmination of the Challenge will come in the form of the Paseo de San Antonio Public Prototyping Festival this spring, a public presentation of their ideas, prototypes, and achievements. This all-day public arts, culture, and technology festival will be held on the Paseo de San Antonio Plaza and at the Hammer Theatre Center on April 8, 2017. Stay tuned as we learn what our students create through the intersection of arts, innovation, and technology!

For more information, please visit or follow the event on Facebook,

By Kaitlynn Magnuson