Wicked Problem Case Competition

All the easy problems have been solved, leaving us with what professor John Kao calls “Wicked Problems”, those highly complex problems whose potential solutions require creative, interdisciplinary thinking. As part of National Public Health Week, the School of Public Health will sponsor the Wicked Problem Case Competition to bring together some of the best teams of thinkers from UAB and in our community.


Students can register as individuals, in which case they will be assigned to a team, or UAB students can register as a team of up to 6 members. If there are fewer students that want to be on the same team that is fine, the full team complement will be filled in later. The deadline to register is Wednesday, April 2 at 11:59PM.

How it Works

The case will be released at the competition kickoff on Friday, April 4th. Teams will be assigned a faculty or professional mentor with whom they will be able to meet for 1 hour on or before Wednesday, April 9 to get feedback on their ideas. Teams present their proposals during a 7 minute presentation on Thursday, April 10th to a panel of judges and will have 5 minutes of Q&A from the judges. 


Friday, April 4th: Competition Kick-off and Case Release

12:00PM, The Edge of Chaos (4th floor of Lister Hill Library)

Teams will receive the case, logistics packet and meet the team mentor. Strategies on preparing and competing in the competition will also be also be shared at the kickoff event. Please note that it is not mandatory for all team members to be present. 

Wednesday, April 9th: Team Workday (Optional)

Teams will have an assigned room on UAB's campus. Lunch will be provided.

Thursday, April 10th: Presentations to Judges

12:30PM-4:00PM, Ryals Building and The Edge of Chaos

A panel of judges with public health expertise will select the winning team based on creativity, presentation, analysis of the problem, recommendations, content, and response to questions. Teams will have 7 minutes to present with 5 minutes of questions from the judging panel. 


Prizes will be distributed equally among team members and paid directly to each participant.

  • First place- $1,500
  • Second place- $1,000
  • Third place- $500

Past Cases

2012 Case: Syphilis Epidemic in Jefferson County, Alabama
2013 Case: Environmental Contamination in Birmingham

2013 Team Presentations

1st Place Team Think Tank 
Video Presentation | Prezi Slides

2nd Place Team Healthy Choice
Video Presentation

3rd Place Team i^3 (Imagine, Invent, Implement)
Video PresentationPowerpoint Slides


For more information, please contact Max Michael, MD, Dean, UAB School of Public Health at (205) 975-7742 or maxm@uab.edu.