Past Winners

  • It is hard to imagine what the world would be like without modern medicine. Doctors today have a wealth of tools at their disposal to combat human suffering. From complex robotic surgical suites that enable surgeons to operate on patients thousands of miles away to simple storage mechanisms for vaccines in the developing world, engineering and technology are central to the way we fight disease. There have been many successes on the road to a healthier planet, but many battles are still left to fight.
  • Shopping at your local supermarket is a different experience today than it was even 50 years ago. Today the food we eat comes from around the world and is often already prepared in a wonderful variety of ways. Engineers are actively involved in every step of the process—they design the specialized machines used to plant and harvest crops and develop unique manufacturing processes to prepare, package, and transport foods in safe and secure ways.
  • Flood, famine, earthquake, tsunami, oil spill, blackout, building collapse, mining accident, wildfire, hurricane, tornado, terrorist attack—all have been headline news in recent years. Disasters, both natural and man-made, can take many forms. Every disaster presents unique challenges and requires fast and decisive action to save lives and limit damages. Engineers are involved in designing many products specifically for use in disaster zones such as portable medical equipment, oil skimmers, or basic shelters. Identify an item designed specifically for use in disaster relief, and then do some research on it to write your essay.
  • If you have to be stranded somewhere with someone, you might want to hope you are stranded with an engineer. Engineers think big and solve problems with whatever resources they have available so they would be great companions on a deserted island. Try this exercise to see if you can think like an engineer:
    During a field trip to a national wildlife refuge (or national forest), you and a friend get separated from the rest of the group and realize that you are totally lost.
    Your guide told you earlier that if you get lost: stay where you are, stay safe, and wait for someone to find you. It's getting late, and the temperature is dropping. When you dump out the contents of your backpack you see the following:
  • Have you ever wondered what goes through an engineer’s mind when she is designing a new product? It takes creativity as well as attention to details and design requirements. Often engineers will use an object as an example and then make improvements for safety, function, or attractiveness. Sometimes a design works best when it is simple, and other times it requires complicated calculations.
    Try your hand at evaluating your own engineering product. Start by choosing one of the three images below. Then think about the object in the picture
    What is it? What do you think it might be used for?
    What are the most important features of the design?
    What was the engineer’s role in making this product and what engineering principles were used?