UWF Design Student to Audition for ‘America’s Greatest Makers’

Alea Kittell came up with a bright idea.

Kittell, a University of West Florida senior majoring in graphic design, created a black shirt embedded with rainbow colored LED lights. The lights blink when activated by motion. The garment was a final project submission for her Interactive Design class.

“I wanted to create something unique and fun,” Kittell said.

As required by the class, Kittell posted the instructions for how to make the shirt on a Web site called Instructables. A representative from the TBS show “America’s Greatest Makers” saw the video and contacted Kittell about auditioning for “Makers” in September.

Right now, Kittell is looking for two technical collaborators to help her brainstorm in preparation for the audition.

Here’s how the show works. Twenty-four teams fly to Los Angeles to pitch their latest wearable or smart devices to a panel of experts. The panel chooses the best ideas, and remaining teams continue to fine-tune their products. The surviving five win $100,000 each. The final five teams put finishing touches on their products and pitches as they compete for the $1 million grand prize.

If chosen for the show in the fall, Kittell and two other team members will attend a tech camp run by staffers from Intel. The staffers help contestants modify their design for the show. She is currently searching for those people. She hopes to find a programmer who can adapt the functionality of the shirt so that it is more than just a fashion statement. She is also looking for an accomplished seamstress to help prepare the final pattern.

People interested in helping Kittell can email her at Participants should be prepared to spend several weeks in California when filming starts in the fall.

“I didn’t expect something like this to happen from a class project,” Kittell said about the possibility of being on the television show. “I am definitely excited and also nervous.”

Field Work is a monthly series that highlights research and other scholarly activities being conducted by UWF undergraduate students.