Spirit of Innovation Challenge

Spirit of Innovation Challenge 

Imagine getting the chance to develop a commercial product to help solve a real challenge facing our world today. If you’re ready to take your innovative science and technology idea to all-new heights, then the Spirit of Innovation Challenge is for you. Get your genius on!

This annual competition challenges high school student teams to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to develop the products of tomorrow. Along the way, coaches, world-renowned scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are there to mentor you and help turn your idea into a reality. This is your chance to expand beyond the classroom and put your STEM knowledge to work.

The Spirit of Innovation Challenge gives you the chance to develop products or ideas centered around three different categories: Aerospace Exploration, Clean Energy, and Health and Nutrition.

Aerospace Exploration

Why should we explore space? Students’ answers range from “the need to save humanity from extinction” to “because it’s there.” Whatever the reasons, we need new technologies to continue reaching for the stars. Here’s your chance to develop products that can help propel the aerospace industry forward in the exploration and knowledge of space.

The Aerospace Exploration category encompasses any products with reasonable commercial opportunity in the aerospace industry – vehicles, spacesuits, planetary exploration, satellites, space medicine, Earth observation and more. Think biomedical … missions to the moon and Mars … other aerospace innovations. The industry is ripe for new ideas.

Clean Energy

Cars fueled by ethanol made from corn. Electric power produced from woody biomass. Wind and solar energy being used as key alternatives to our reliance on carbon-emitting fossil fuels. These are just a few ways clean energy technologies are making a difference on Earth. From small, individual-use products to large-scale systems, new innovations are needed to move our planet to a sustainable future. Are you up for the challenge?

The Clean Energy category includes products or ideas that address energy efficiency; energy storage; solar, geothermal and wind energy; biomass fuels; as well as any other renewable energy solutions.

Health and Nutrition

Fact: Malnutrition affects 1 in 3 people around the world, especially children and those in poverty-stricken regions, yet 1 in every 3 U.S. children ages 2-19 years is overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, various forms of cancer and increase the risk of premature death. Clearly, there is a global health and nutrition crisis at hand. Here’s your chance to change that.

The Health and Nutrition category challenges teams to create solutions that address growing more nutritious food with less water and land, creating better eating habits amongst youth and encouraging healthy lifestyles through products and innovations. How could you move the needle? A new inexpensive nutrition-packed food product? A healthy lifestyle video game? A new health care device or exercise equipment? The sky is the limit when it comes to nutrition and health innovations.

Visit the Spirit of Innovation Challenge website for more information and competition guidelines. Register early to receive competition updates and access the online community. There is no fee to register. Sumbit your team abstract by Friday 11th November, 2011.

Each submission will be reviewed by at least three technical experts and given a score based on innovation and viability. The top 30-40 scoring teams in each category will be selected as semi-finalists and given detailed instructions on submitting a full product proposal. Semi-finalist teams will be notified by email and announced publicly in December 2011. The Semi-Finalist Round is the second phase of the competition, in which students further develop their innovations into full product proposals.

Experts will review all submissions and select five finalists in each category to advance to the Innovation Summit for the final competition. The Innovation Summit draws entrepreneurs, government officials and scientists who collaborate with student teams. It is a one-of-a-kind environment where seasoned professionals engage with the best young entrepreneurs, and together, design the future. To help finance the trip, finalist teams receive a $2,000 travel grant upon completion of the Finalist Agreement Form.

Pete Conrad Scholar: The winning finalist team in each category will be named a Pete Conrad Scholar and receive the following:
- $5,000 Next Step Grant to continue product development. Grant money must be used as proposed in the team’s Next Step Plan.
- Certificate of Recognition as Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards Laureate, along with a Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Medallion.
- One recognition plaque will be awarded to each team for display at their school.
- Teams will be provided additional assistance in connecting with local, regional and national media outlets. More presentation opportunities will be available through partner events and activities.
- Each team will be considered for the Conrad Portal, a mentoring and educational program designed to assist teams in growing as individual innovators, businesspeople and scientists through the practical development of their product ideas.
- Sigma Xi Associate Membership – All team members will be provided a one-year associate membership to Sigma Xi, an international, multidisciplinary research society whose programs and activities promote the health of the scientific enterprise and honor scientific achievement.

National Space Biomedical Research Center Award for Human Healthcare in Space: Award recipient will also be recognized as a Pete Conrad Scholar team. Winner will receive all benefits of Pete Conrad Scholars listed above.

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation Coaches Award: Each coach from the Pete Conrad Scholar winning teams will receive a $500 stipend for their dedication to innovative education.