The American Institute of Architects annual confab is an overwhelming thing: They fill that cavernous floor of the Convention Center like no trade association I’ve ever seen with elaborate displays and hordes of designers with distinctive eyewear. Somewhat lost in the glitz were small collections of students from local universities showing off their entrants in a contest for the “workstation of the future,” which couldn’t cost more than $30 (technology not included). A couple of my favorites:

Howard had a very clever concept of creating a desk with interlocking glass, plastic, and wood, which could be expanded across a room like tinkertoys.

Catholic brought a touch screen light table that can be used for architectural drafting—-as well as playing Angry Birds—-that runs off a jury-rigged Playstation camera and projector. Microsoft makes a commercial version that costs $15,000.

The University of Maryland took a more traditional approach, with desk that retracts into a plywood cabinet.

Morgan State had a compact, vertical concept.

A very well-executed travel desk that folds up into a briefcase: