Draper Technical Challenge Competition - National Society of Black Engineers


How do I get started?
Choose a question and think creatively! You don’t need to be an expert in any specific technical area to address any of the questions, even if a question doesn’t immediately seem relevant to your area of study, there may be a role for someone with your expertise to play in developing the solution; describe that. Some additional questions to think about as you craft your proposal:

  • What would be the first step you took if you were assigned this problem?
  • What additional data would you need to solve this problem?
  • How would you collect that data?
  • What would you use that information for?
  • What decisions would you make? - try diagramming your decision process
  • What hypothesis would need to be tested in order to solve this problem?
  • Are there components of the problem that relate to your area of study? One of your current or recent classes?

What level of technical detail should my submission include?
Your objective in preparing your submission is to show the judges that you are a creative, resourceful, engineer. Your submission should reflect your current level of training as an engineer, but need not include specific equations or theorems. Focus on the engineering, that is design and development of the solution more than the science, but we should still be able to tell you understand the science you’re suggesting be applied.

Why are the questions so hard?
These are all open ended problems, real challenges in the world that have yet to be solved. These are reflective of the variety of problems Draper engineers tackle every day and we want to expose you to a little bit of Draper culture and experience while awarding scholarships to NSBE members. Submissions will be assessed on creativity and originality; any approach will be welcomed. We don’t have expected answers. These are all things we don’t know how to solve either, but that we think could help someone if we did.

Who are the judges?
The judges will be Draper technical staff members and engineering managers. Most Draper technical staff hold advanced degrees and a deep passion for solving really challenging problems.

Do I need to be NSBE member?
Yes, entrants must be paid NSBE members and able to attend the Region 1 Fall Regional Conference.

I’m not a graduate student; I’ve never done research before, can I still enter?
Yes! This competition is open to all student NSBE Members, both undergraduate and graduate students. You do not need previous relevant technical experience.

How should my submission be organized?
Typical sections to include are background, experimental design, intended analysis, hypotheses, anticipated outcomes, etc. Feel free to cater your submission to the problem selected and approach you see as most fitting.

Should I include citations?
If applicable, yes, but the bibliography does not affect your word count.

May I include figures?
Yes, if applicable, a diagram of your intended design or workflow may be included, however note that your complete submission must be submitted as a single pdf file.

Do I have to be an engineering major to enter?
No, you may have any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) major to enter the competition.

How is the prize disbursed?
The prize money will be issued as a check made payable directly to the student after the competition.

When and why should I register?
Register as soon as possible, by registering you will be signing up for reminders about the deadline and notification for any updates as the competition as soon as possible. Registration is not binding, though we hope that many students will enter.