THE UT.LAB - Teach for America Design Contest



After six months of designing and voting The 2014 UT.LAB & TEACH FOR AMERICA DESIGN CONTEST has been awarded to Cristian Lopez of Teacher Ryon Tanara's class.

The next phase of the project will now involve a close collaboration between Cristian, Teacher Tanara, and THE UT.LAB as we prepare the shoe design for the September 2014 crowdfunding campaign. The campaign will feature Cristian's "Fibonacci Spiral" design on THE UT.LAB LIGHT WING TRAINER, all TYVEK® "paper" shoe.


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To understand more of the back story, please continue to read on....


Having already partnered with Teach for America earlier in 2013, the team at THE UT.LAB wanted to expand it's partnership to work directly with teachers and students from Las Vegas Valley. Working with teachers of all disciplines across multiple schools we set out on a design contest for our first shoe the LIGHT WING TRAINER. 

With nothing more than a blank silhouette of the shoe and the instructions to create a design that was inspired by their interest in the math and sciences, the students got to work. Throughout the winter, designs from kindergartners to high school seniors came flowing in. The design team at THE UT.LAB was blown away by the entries. We reviewed and then helped the students refine their thinking about their designs.

The 12 finalist designs were voted on from May 20 - May 31, 2014. With entries coming in from all over the world, it was truly an international design experience.

The designer with the most number of votes will then work remotely with THE UT.LAB team to prepare the shoe design for crowdfunding on Indiegogo is responsible for helping makers, designers, and social causes raise funding to make their dream a reality. All profits from the campaign will be donated to Teach for America Las Vegas Valley.

We're excited to see such amazing designs from such amazing young minds. Scroll down, review the designs, vote for your favorite at the bottom of the page, and please share this page with your friends, family and colleagues.






AGE: 18 

My inspiration came from the Fibonacci Spiral and looking at life and all the beautiful things that nature creates using the spiral. I first learned about it in my sophomore year in my geometry class. It amazed me because the Fibonacci Spiral and the sequence of numbers appeared everywhere around me and I never noticed it.

The Fibonacci Spiral inspires me because it’s based on a sequence of numbers which often appear in nature. For example, the sequence of numbers appears in seashells, daisies, pine cones, snail shells, roses and a lot more. I think it is cool that behind the beauty are all these numbers that have to do with math.

I sketched it with a black pen.

I imagine the people who wear the design are people that really don’t care too much about their appearance but have simple taste. I imagine people who love nature and admire life’s art wearing the design. People who are easy going and enjoy being comfortable and taking life slow.

Datner Esparza

Age: 18

I chose the prism because not only do I believe it signifies a shape that brings attention but how it represents the art given to reveal its true meaning. The white light inspired me because i saw it as a beam of power that would pop out more to my design needing to expand into a eye capturing the moment that will grab people's attention.

The visual spectrum its self inspires me because not only its a shape,yet how its formed and how it was brought to this world transforming ideas on how this spectrum can be used or put out there to millions of people worldwide.

The colors i chose weren't just because of the visible light and the overall scientific discovery but how those colors bright up our lives giving it a more meaningful sight.

I truly would love to see my shoe design come to life and be worn by people who believe my art isn't just a scientific discovery printed on shoe but how it attracts one mind to tell themselves ''hey that looks awesome'' or simply 'thats legit'.


David Becerra

Age: 16

What I find interesting about the atom is that, everything in the world is made up of atoms. Its incredible that a little ball makes up everything in the world.

I chose the atom as my design concept because the design was supposed to focus on math or science. I also saw a other shoe design that made me think of a atom.

I chose the the colors that are used in the shoes because when I hear of the atom i don't know why but it reminds me of Georgetown University, and the colors are Georgetown colors.

I imagine a person who loves to stand out of a crowd and likes to express themselves with their clothing wearing these shoes.

Gabriel Mazy

Age: 17

I chose space because of the way it can have beautiful colors when it comes to galaxies and nebulas. Stargazing also strongly influenced me.

Space can be inspirational in many ways, however I admire the ways it can bring people together. It doesn't matter if its a group of friends stargazing, or if it's scientists from around the world studying stars, we are all under the same sky.

The colors I chose for the design were an easy pick. For starters, blue is my favorite color so I made sure to use plenty. I also took the opportunity to use many shades of purple because I find its one of the more pretty colors in space, that and it goes well with blue. I was just trying to capture what the cool colors of space looked like.

If I could add/change anything to my design it would probably by a lot more stars or constellations. Although I like the colors, I feel like stars are what make space so pretty. We can never have enough stars.

I can easily picture anyone wearing the shoes, but I feel like anyone with a passion for space would appreciate them a lot more.

Heidi Robles

Age: 17

I chose squares as an inspiration for my design because it was simple but yet very creative in starting the process of my imagination.

People think of math as a hard topic to comprehend but I actually like math especially algebra and geometry so I actually like taking a challenge and math inspires me to keep challenging myself in order to become better.

I chose these colors because I see they were very bright and lively, I like bright colors to show that its not a boring shoe to wear but you will stand out from other people and this will catch people's eyes from the unique style.

I would see my shoes being warn by many people especially women because of the colors, it will make them look nice and stylish.

Jacob Seal

Age: 12

I choose the comet as an inspiration because I have never seen a comet and I think they are cool. I was inspired by the emptiness of space. I picked the colors because space is black and a comet is white.

I can see all my friends wearing this design.

Karla Valdivia

Age: 17

I chose lightning as my inspiration because many things surround electricity and I believe that our world today can’t live without it. This is why I placed the design on the shoe. Electricity provides power, and so should the shoe. I wanted people to feel electric and powerful.

Lightning is a natural form of electricity and it gives life. It’s something that a lot of scientific concepts are surrounded by, light energy and light.

Lightning has shades of blue and white light, so I decided to make the lighting represent those colors. I also chose the black background so that you can see the lighting and it helps the design stand out.

If I had to, I would take out the building blocks of DNA at the bottom of the shoe because it does not go along with the theme of lightning.

The type of people I imagine wearing my shoe would be skater types. Also people who want to feel empowered because of the lightning design.

It all has to do with power. 

Lorenzo Granados


The way lightning looked was very interesting to me. Earth Science and Nature itself, it's a fascinating and crazy the way it works. I tried to use the natural colors of lighting. If I had to,I would add a lot more color to my design.

I imagine teens my age wearing the shoes.

Lupe Leon

Age: 18

My inspiration came from Pink Floyd's prism, and  how the prism makes a rainbow.  Chemistry, the prism and the periodic table all inspire me.

I chose the colors of space which are blue white and purple to make it look like a galaxy. 

If I could imagine somebody wearing the shoe, it would be Empire of the Sun Luke little more or the other guy.


Luz Escalante

Age: 17

My inspiration came from my imagination and family. My family gives me the strength to overcome anything. They inspire me by cheering me on and telling me that anything is possible. My imagination gives me ideas and my family pushes me to use my creativity to share those ideas through my art skills. Both things inspired me to do and Albert Einstein design with a quote about imagination.

Science is my favorite subject. Science is about experiments and figuring out how things really work. It is an interesting topic that keeps me involved and there is still so much I have to learn. Math is also important as well. Without math science would be weak. So both topics helped me design a shoe that shows a few different parts of the two subjects.

My favorite colors are purple and pink but I chose colors that would be best for a girl and a boy. I don’t see a lot of green shoes so I thought outside the box and decided to use the green mixed with the blue. I think the colors are a nice match and it helps the design stand out. I was watching Monsters Inc. and also was inspired by the colors in that movie.

I think I would add a Frankenstein next to the Albert Einstein image to show that this is a mix of different ideas in one shoe. But other than that, I would maybe try to blend the colors a little bit better.

I would like anyone who gets inspired by my shoe to wear it. My shoe does not have an age because I can see anyone wearing it. When I was designing it, I made sure I thought of all people wearing the shoe.

Summer Davis

Age: 16

I wanted something to do with space. I went through about five different designs before I thought of the moon cycle. When I thought of the idea, I redid it, colored it differently, and drew the moons until they were decent.

I just love different things about science. Science isn't just a bunch of numbers, it has a whole new world behind and in front of it. It just fascinates me.

I'm simple most of the time, and the moon isn't really colorful, so why not have a simple comfortable shoe.

If I could, I would make the moons look realistic instead of plain circles. 

Well I see anyone wearing my shoe. If you like it, why not wear it too?

Valeria Garcia

Age: 13

I chose the cell as my inspiration because all living things are made out of cells. Knowing this made me care about science.

Life sciences was my first science class. Science has the ability to connect to the outside world. Biology is my pathway to discover things like cells.

I chose turquoise because it is a color that is not allowed in dress code terms at my school. If my shoe gets picked then we can wear turquoise shoes.

If I can change something about my shoe it would be to make it more presentable.

I see everyone at Von Tobel Middle School wearing these shoes, including my teachers. I can also see this shoe all over the social media like Instagram and Facebook.