Engineering Competitions for High School

Instructor: Marissa Baranauskas
There are many engineering competitions available for high school students to participate in, with some offering cash and scholarship prizes. Keep reading to get details on some of these competitions that encourage innovation in various disciplines of engineering.

National Bridge and Structure Competition

Sponsoring Organizations: The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

Competition: This national bridge building competition is a part of the Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) program. Separate projects are assigned according to grade level with 9th-10th grade students building vertical lift bridges and 11th-12th grade students creating more advanced cantilever through truss bridges. Both are challenged to maximize the strength to weight ratio of the structure.

Eligibility Requirements: The competition is open to three member teams of 9th-12th graders enrolled in schools involved in the TRAC program. No more than five teams for each competition can participate per school.

Prize: 1st place is awarded $1,200, 2nd place $900, and 3rd place $600. These prizes are given in the form of gift cards.

For instructions on how to construct a simple bridge structure, check out our lesson on Bridge Building to help you create your prototype.

Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC)

Sponsoring Organizations: The Aerospace Industries Association and the National Association of Rocketry

Competition: Teams of 3-10 students are required to engineer model rockets in response to creative challenges. The specific challenge changes from year to year, but it typically involves constructing a rocket, making it fly to a certain altitude and back within a certain amount of seconds while also carrying a load that should come back undamaged.

Eligibility: Students in 7th-12th grade (including homeschooled students) are eligible to compete in this contest. All team members must come from the same school or non-profit organization. Please note that each team must include an entry fee with their application. As of 2016, the fee is $125.

Prizes: The top 100 teams regionally will get the chance to compete at a national competition. Over $100,000 in the form of scholarships and cash will be divided among top finishers. The national winning team receives $20,000 and the opportunity to compete at the International Rocketry Challenge in the United Kingdom.

To review valuable principles that may help in your design process check out our course on Physics for high-school students.

Verizon App Challenge

Sponsoring Organizations: The Verizon Foundation, the MIT Center for Mobile Learning, and the Technology Student Association (TSA)

Competition: Students participating in the Verizon App Challenge are required to design an application concept that meets a need in their community. This competition takes place at the state, regional and national level and has previously had students in all 50 states competing. Previous projects have included solutions for blind and visually impaired students, teens managing stress and depression, and underfunded science education.

Eligibility: Students in 6th-12th grade who are enrolled in a public or private school, or part of a nonprofit organization. Home schools are not eligible.

Prizes: The state winner receives a $5,000 prize donated to their STEM program and mobile tablets for each student on the team. A national winner and a fan-favorite will both receive a $15,000 donation, the opportunity to work with MIT engineers to develop their app for the marketplace, and an all-inclusive trip to a National TSA conference.

You can get an overview of application software and some of their uses by checking out this course on Information Systems and Computer Applications.

International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environment Project (I-SWEEEP)

Sponsoring Organizations: Harmony Public Schools in Houston, Texas, educational organizations, and industry leaders

Competition: I-SWEEEP uses special criteria to award winning student projects at regional, state, and national science fairs with an invitation to compete in their international competition. This competition encourages students to create innovative ideas for solutions to energy, environment, and engineering issues. In 2016, 385 projects were selected from 62 different countries for participation.

Eligibility: Students in 9th-12th grades are eligible to participate who have completed a project within 12 months of application.

Prizes: Winners are awarded honors, bronze, silver, and gold medals in a variety of categories. One grand award winner is also chosen for each category.

Get a head start on creating an award winning project with this course on Environmental Science. It can give you an in-depth overview of some of the challenges that the world is facing in energy and the environment. You can use this information to develop ideas and resolutions for your project.

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