Getting through the endless rows of booths and exhibits at the annual three-day AIA convention can be an extraordinary feat. One is bound to miss some of the gems hidden in a corner or tucked away at the end of an aisle. Lydia DePillis, taking note of this, offers a quick rundown in the Washington City Paper of some student design entrants in a contest for the “workstation of the future.”

 As the competition’s title 30x30x30 suggests, students were working within certain constraints—installations had to fit within 30 square feet, cost no more than $30, and materials had to come from within 30 miles of their schools.

A few of DePillis’ favorite designs, she says, included: A desk by Howard University students, “which could be expanded across a room like tinkertoys”; a touch-screen workspace by Catholic University, which could be used for architectural drafting or playing Angry Birds; and a travel desk designed by students from Morgan State.

Architecture students don’t catch many breaks these days, between rising tuition and a bleak employment outlook. A few students will have cause to celebrate, though, when they win the competition and have their design featured in ARCHITECT.