My Other Vehicle is Unmanned – Sketchbattle Pro 17 Chicago

Over the past 7 years, the Sketchbattle has evolved and grown from a small intimate cocktail party and sketching competition to a significant and critically important stop on the the North American Auto Show circuit.  Except for one event in the fall of 2014 where the “experiment” morphed into a graffiti battle, the previous 16 events were centered and focused on automotive design.  The Sketchbattle Pro event in Chicago as presented by AUVSI, broke with tradition and will go down in history as the first product-design oriented Sketchbattle as part of the massive Xponential Conference. Many more are coming and are in the midst of their planning stages!

IMG_4217So, for Sketchbattle #17, we present to you the theme “All Things Unmanned”.



Sketchbattle Pro competitions feature contestants sketching a pre-determined theme for a set time live in front of the audience over several rounds a la a boxing match.  Hence the tagline “The Fight Club of Design”.   After each round the sketches and designs are presented on a display wall and evaluated by a panel of expert industry judges for sketch quality and adherence to the given theme.  Based on their scores, the judges then eliminate half of the contestants, who then move on to the next round.  In the Championship Round (final round), the score cards are reviewed and a single winner is chosen who is awarded the cash prize, a title belt, and is paid to attend the Sketchbattle of the Sketchmasters held annually in Detroit.


For the Xponential 2019, the theme for the first round was to “Design an Unmanned Package Delivery Service” and was sponsored by Middlecott Design, Detroit, MI.  The theme was purposely vague so that the contestants could stretch their imaginations.  The Championship Round theme was to “Design an unmanned Fire Fighting or Surpression System” and was sponsored by AACS, a business development , trend research and strategy consulting firm headquartered in Ann Arbor MI. with offices in California, Colorado and North Carolina.




LtoR Hector Silva, Glen Durmisevich, Frank Schwartz and Brook Banham

GLEN DURMISEVICH: Chief Designer Navistar

As Chief Designer at Navistar’s Innovation and Design department, Glen is responsible for the exterior design of INTERNATIONAL brand North American trucks. His leadership on the 2013 Horizon Concept vehicle led directly to the 2017 LT on-highway tractor as well as the 2016 HX severe service trucks and new Medium Duty vehicles designed jointly with General Motors. This position in heavy commercial vehicles comes after 32 years with General Motors Design, where his contributions included automotive exterior and interior, concept and production vehicle designs. Glen was responsible for such vehicles as the Chevrolet SSR and Oldsmobile Recon Concept vehicle. He played a key role in establishing and managing the General Motors Accessory Design Studio to build an aftermarket presence for all GM vehicles. His experience at General Motors included an overseas assignment at Holden in Australia and provided him an in depth understanding of integrated computer technologies, branding and design quality.


Glen graduated from the College for Creative Studies and has utilized his interest and knowledge in automotive and transportation history as an adjunct professor at Lawrence Technological University’s Transportation Design Program. In 2005 Glen chaired the EyesOn Design Automotive Design Exhibition and now serves as Design Director and Chief Judge for this premier car show.

HECTOR SILVA: Professor of Design, Notre Dame University

Silva works as an industrial design contractor under the brand H Design, partnering with companies like Crate & Barrel, DesignLab, Nickelodeon, LeapFrog, Foster Grant, Insight Product Development, Kelloggs’ Pringles brand and Lund & Company Invention. Hector is also a professor at the University of Notre Dame.

58382917_2172197989533794_4086971912574468096_nHis work with wearables in the medical field earned the Core 77 Design Awards 2016 Student Notable Consumer Product Award. In 2016, he founded Advanced Design, a student-led organization that empowers students’ continued productivity during the summer when classes are not in session. @hectorius_  @adv_des


IMG_4244Calvin Kim/Student/CCS/Seoul, South Korea

Our first Chicago contestant is Calvin Kim, a student at College for Creative Studies. Kim is from Dallas Texas and was born in Seoul, South Korea. Calvin is attending this event to challenge himself and experience a new opportunity for his path!  @calvinkmkim_design

Daney Chhang/Frank Stephenson Design/Art Center/Dallas TX

Daney Chhang will also be competing in the Chicago Sketchbattle! Chhang is a designer for Frank Stephenson Design. Stephenson was Head of Design for the new Mini when it debuted and also led McLaren and others. Chhang is originally from Dallas Texas and had stints at Embraer Jets and Faraday Future. He went to school at Art Center.  Daney is the #1 ranked contestant in Chicago due to his in in Las Vegas 2016.  @daneycdesigns

Daniel Schaumann/DANSCH/Purdue/Philadelphia PA

Daniel Schaumann is a multi-faceted creative who straddles the line between design, engineering and intellectual property law. Daniel teaches design courses at UIC. In his professional practice, DANSCH, Daniel provides design and engineering consulting services to clients ranging from large corporations to local startups. A deep believer in the bicycle as a vehicle for change, Daniel’s personal practice, Pachyderm, includes the design and fabrication of custom bicycles.

Eric Groner/California Innovations/University of Oregon/Portland OR

Eric Groner will be competing in his second Sketchbattle, having also competed in Detroit in 2018! He attended the University of Oregon for Industrial Design. Post graduation in 2013, he worked for 3+ years as an Industrial Designer at FUSE in Portland, OR. During his time at FUSE he specialized in designing bike and ski gear. Eventually Eric’s design career brought him to Chicago where he has been creating insulated adventure gear for Arctic Zone and affiliated brands.  @ei7ik

Ian Galvin/Freelance Designer/CCS/Chicago IL

Our next contestant for Chicago is Ian Galvin, a multidisciplinary designer that works in the entertainment and consumer product fields.  Galvin lives in Chicago with his wife Kristen, an interior designer, and their very charismatic cat. He creates illustrations for transportation related publications and has worked with global companies such as Ford, Samsung, PepsiCo, Ubisoft Entertainment, Insomniac Games, and Marvel Studios. His work has been published in international publications including Cycle World, Iron & Air, Esquire, Business Week, and Dwell. He and his wife spend their vacations traveling on the West Coast by motorcycle and he spends his free time reading sci-fi and sketching in Mezcal bars.  @ian_galvin

Linda Bui/Freelance Designer/University of Illinois/Chicago IL

Linda Bui is our next contestant for the Chicago Sketchbattle! She is an industrial designer from Chicago, IL. Throughout her young career, she has designed for a delightful range of consumer products from power tools to medical devices. During her off-hours, she uses sketching as a medium to explore unknown territories like soft goods and transportation. Linda is always up for opportunities to challenge her skills and mindset, whether it be through learning car design at @oldschoolcarclass or throwing it down at the Sketchbattle!  @lindabuidesign

Mike Herbert/TEAMS Design/Columbia College/Napierville IL

The next contestant for the Chicago Sketchbattle is Mike Herbert. Herbert works as an industrial designer at TEAMS Chicago, partnering with brands like Bosch, Electro-Voice, Crown Lift Trucks and Fiat Chrysler. With disciplines in photography and filmmaking, he has also worked on storyboards, documentary shorts and product photography. On the side, Mike is involved in the car scene in Chicago, working with local custom car shops and a design community called Old School Car Class. Mike has been involved with projects that bring to life automotive design history, partnering with museums like the Studebaker National Museum and the Henry Ford Museum.  @mikerayherbert

Rotimi Solola/SO Design/University of Illinois/Chicago IL

Our final planned contestant for the Chicago Sketchbattle is Rotimi Solola. With experience in both consulting and corporate environments, Solola has contributed to the successful launch of multiple products. He started SO design in 2017 and teaches adjunct at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before becoming an independent designer, Solola was on the Motorola Mobility cell phone design team, where he acquired much of his knowledge on bringing products to market. Outside of designing and lecturing, Solola stays involved with the design community by speaking at conferences and judging design competitions.  @so.dsgn @rotimi_solola

Jessica Cohen/State of NY/Stanford and UC Berkeley/Chicago IL

A last minute addition to the competition was Jessica Cohen, who happened by the competitor’s table on her way through the conference.  Cohen has a Masters of Architecture from UC Berkeley and a Master of Product Design from Stanford and was a welcome last-minute addition to the event.


For the first round the contestants were asked to design and sketch “Design an Unmanned Package Delivery Service” with a time limit of 30 minutes.

IMG_20190501_164501The round was sponsored by MIDDLECOTT Design , an international design organization based in Detroit, Michigan. As Detroit’s premier design consultancy, MIDDLECOTT will supercharge your brand through its award-winning formula of high-octane design.



For the Championship Round, the four remaining contestants were given another 30 minutes to develop and sketch an unmanned Fire Fighting or Suppression System.

20190501_115141With the history of the Chicago Fire and the recent fire at Notre Dame in Paris fresh in their minds, the contestants took the subject seriously.

So, 30 minutes, unmanned fire fighting………………

The judging for the final round was much tougher than Round 1.  Instead of just picking which contestants would go through the judges were saddled with picking only one.

IMG_4392Two contestants were selected quickly, but after the initial review it took a long time for them to choose the eventual winner.  In the end we had our first winner from a traditional university, The University of Illinois at Chicago, Rotimi Solola.


Solola’s composition struck the perfect combination of sketch quality while still following the theme of fire fighting. According to the judges, the line work was “impeccable”.


Rotimi walked home with a cash award of $1,500. a title belt from Mobsteel, a custom watch from Brazen Sports, and the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment will fly him to Detroit for the 2020 event to compete against the other champions from the past year.


Thanks to our fantastic staff,without whom Brook and I could never manage an event.  Judith, Erin, Tony and Chris.

20190501_174226And thanks to our partners AUVSI, especially Mike Greeson, This was our second event with them and the results were fantastic.  See below for more pictures from Erin and Judith.

The next event is schedule for the Concours at Pebble Beach on Friday August 16th, 2019. Be sure to keep track of the tickets and how to be a contestant by following the news on our webpage at

Pebble Beach instagram_flyer_4

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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1 Response to My Other Vehicle is Unmanned – Sketchbattle Pro 17 Chicago

  1. Sean Halpin says:

    Great work!

    Sean Halpin 586-243-2240 Halpin Solutions LLC. ******New and improved location****** 1391 Wheaton Drive #300 Troy Mi, 48083 *****New in 2017 Halpin West in Dana Point, CA*****


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