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An Automated Twist on Reality TV

The latest automation challenge can be found right in your living room, as Edge Factor launches a student design competition and reality show!


Manufacturers around the world are trying to figure out how to make “making stuff” appealing to the next generation. Well, what better way to capture the attention of digital natives than to turn on the TV and web cameras?

For years, Edge Factor has been using cinematic visuals to tell the extraordinary stories of people pushing the envelope with advanced manufacturing. Or, in some cases, showing how the machine tools we use every day can save lives. For example, the 33 trapped Chilean miners were saved, in part, by Center Rock Inc., the manufacturer that created the high-tech drill used on the mine to construct an escape route. That’s a compelling story that needs to be told to our youth.

But sometimes you have to show, don’t tell, which is why Edge Factor, together with Randolph Community College in North Carolina, launched Reality Redesigned, a student design competition that will be turned into a reality show.

According to the Reality Redesigned creators: “It’s a mashup of storytelling meets inventor. ‘Chopped’ meets ‘Cards Against Humanity’ meets ‘Shark Tank.’ It is an unconventional design competition that allows imaginative students to connect with industry and educational mentors and collaboratively design solutions to outrageous scenarios.”

On February 1, 2017, the audition phase of Reality Redesigned launched online for students in grade 6-12 at public and charter schools in Randolph County. Teams consisted of six middle or high school students and one mentor that could be a teacher, parent or businessperson.

The goal was to unlock unique problems for the team to solve. Competitors began by choosing three cards that provide a person, a place and a challenge. Teams keep flipping the deck until they get a combination that will inspire a “problem story” for the team to creatively define through their own interpretation. From there, they design and present solutions to their problems by uploading team videos, pictures of drawings, CAD models, planning documents and estimated costs.

In April, the top three contenders that will go on to compete in the Reality Redesigned TV pilot were announced. The designs include: The Puffee, The Kitty Contraptor and The Stainless Steal-less Mug. These teams will present their creations to judges in front of a live audience of their peers.

Here’s looking at you kids. Good luck!

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