Graphic Design Students Contenders in International Competition
Feb. 7, 2014
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— A team of students at Illinois Wesleyan have been named semifinalists
in the Records for Life contest, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The international competition called for the creation of a proposal and prototype
to redesign child health records in third-world countries.
Seniors Rebecca Erickson, Robert Frank III, William Frank, Audrey Ito and Tara Simpson
submitted their prototype for a course taught by Sherilyn McElroy, professor of art
and graphic design. Though the winners have yet to be announced, the students’ proposal
is a main contender, as it recently placed within the top 40 among over 300 submissions.
“Every year the senior design class completes a different project based on issues
that can potentially change attitudes, behaviors, or systems,” said McElroy. “These
projects are pedagogical innovation recognized by Design for Good as featured by the
American Institute of Graphic Arts.” The Records for Life contest was chosen as this
According to The Gates Foundation website, health-care cards hold great value in third-world
countries, but they often lack adequate space to express the information, are easily
damaged and are designed in an unclear way for parents. To improve these vital information
systems, the designs will be judged on clarity, adaptability, perceived value and
Keeping this year’s focus in mind, the steps of the design process included research,
empathy, ideation, design, feedback and re-design. “They researched over one hundred
existing immunization records from all over the globe, and then analyzed and assessed
the features,” said McElroy.
“Our prototype was designed with clearly laid out squares, or ‘pods,’ to fill out
for each dose of each vaccine, organized by color,” said Erickson. “Since the pods
could be easily adapted to digital and variable screen sizes, like mobile phones,
we designed a mobile app to accompany our design.”
To assist in the process, the students enlisted the help of community experts, including
philanthropic planner Drake Zimmerman, who holds degrees as a juris doctor, chartered
financial analyst, certified financial planner and chartered advisor in philanthropy,
nursing major and Illinois Wesleyan Class of 2002 Munib S. Abdulrehman, certified
nurse practitioner (Ph.D.), and registered nurse Trish Cleary, who serves as supervisor
at the McLean County Health Department.
“By inviting global health representatives to the class the students benefited from
not only their knowledge, but also their personal experiences in global health,” said
McElroy. “Through the storytelling of specific scenarios, the experts convinced the
students that their task was important and they could help save lives with well-designed records.” “Design really can, and does, make a difference, and this is one of many projects
that attests to that,” said Erickson.
For more information about the contest, contact Sherry Wallace, director for news
and media relations, at (309) 556-3181.