Draper Technical Challenge Competition - National Society of Black Engineers

Challenge Questions

Additive Manufacturing:
: Additive manufacturing (3D Printing) has been around for decades but few products are produced using these techniques. One reason for this is that many companies have used additive manufacturing as a means to replicate existing designs versus designing products that take full advantage of these new techniques. Additive manufacturing is capable of producing products that could never be fabricated using conventional techniques. Survey additive manufacturing techniques and describe their advantages that could be leveraged to create new product designs/architectures. Propose a common commercial product that could have significantly increased function if it were redesigned to take advantage of additive manufacturing’s strengths.


Cyber Attack Prevention:
Any piece of electronics which has processing and input/output capabilities can be considered a cyber target or weapon. It was previously common to physically isolate crucial systems, but this practice is less common given current needs to connect systems for monitoring and remote access. A zero-day attack is one that exploits a vulnerability that was previously unknown. Describe a means of protecting a network from zero-day attacks that is robust to both purely (software) attacks and attacks at the hardware-software boundary. If the attacker could choose 0-day vulnerabilities for specific devices or services, how many would they need to break in to your network?


Implantable Device Biocompatibility:
Biocompatibility and the option of implantable is an important factor in the design of new medical devices. While much of the device is often of an electrical nature, concerns governing the biocompatibility are generally of a mechanical and/or chemical nature. Technologies that enable the advancement and miniaturization of implantable medical devices (eg, neural recording and stimulation) are in need in order to complement advances in sensing, stimulation, and repair technologies. Describe a means by which new technologies can reach testing and therefore the market faster. Potential topics include validation of existing devices for in-vivo degradation and accelerated lifetime testing, hermetic electronics micro-packaging, biocompatibility enhancements, energy efficient bio-telemetry circuits, neural stimulator circuits, and optical fiber sensors.


Human Centric Design:
If you are a Mars airplane or Titan Lander, and you have lost your inertial navigation reference, how would you establish your reference—without GPS- (i.e. establishing an absolute navigation frame).

Planetary entry vehicles seek to arrive at very specific locations to explore areas of particular scientific interest. That requires maintaining a precise knowledge of the vehicle navigation state in both a fixed frame known relative to the vehicle’s place of origin, and in a moving frame of reference tied to the surface of its destination. The knowledge of the position relative to the fixed frame will “drift” (degrade) with time without calibrated external aiding updates. The knowledge of the vehicle position relative to the destination surface’s moving frame will depend on observations calibrated against known objects at the destination. If one assumes that the initial navigation conditions just prior to entry are well known, what strategies can you propose to maintain fixed frame navigation accuracy then maintain moving frame position knowledge accuracy from entry on?

Assumptions: There will not likely be GPS-class satellites in place around the destination planet, you may be on the far side of the planet relative to Earth when entering, and the atmosphere being entered may be opaque to some frequency bands. The solution should be plausible to carry on board a small platform.


Human-Centric Design:
There are a multitude of tasks for which we have yet to design a system that can outperform a human at acceptable levels. Some of these tasks include medical diagnostics, lie detection, and unmanned vehicle control. As such, there is an increase in designing systems based on a human user and human error, as well as the interaction of technology with humans, in an assistive or suggestive manner. Designing for a user takes on a different face in each engineering discipline, but there are common threads. Design a platform level solution to enable rapid prototyping for advancement in these fields. Identify one such problem in your engineering discipline as a case study for how your system would be effectively executed.