Updated: Registration for 2013-14 Real World Design Challenge now open

Updated Oct. 8 to reflect changes in competition timeline

An annual competition that provides high school students the opportunity to work on real-world engineering challenges in a team environment is now open for registration. The 2013-14 Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) will focus on agriculture, with the overarching goal of increasing the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce.

This year’s challenge differs from those previous in that the 2013-14 challenge will span three years. Participants will make use of agricultural, unmanned aerial systems for a “Precision Agriculture Mission.” Precision agriculture, as a science, is increasingly needed—particularly because the world population is forecasted to increase to 2 billion people by 2050. This type of agriculture is necessary to escalate food production, reduce environmental pollution and increase farming profits worldwide.

RWDC teams will be gathering information using sensors applied to an aircraft. There will also be a ground vehicle for a “land challenge,” using a GPS approach for all vehicles. Each year of the three-year challenge will provide a subset of data, which participants can use to prepare for the following year’s additional challenge topics.

This STEM-related challenge enables participating students to address a problem that confronts our nation’s leading industries, utilize professional engineering software to develop their solutions and generate presentations that demonstrate the value of their solutions.

The State competition challenge kicks off Oct. 10. This challenge will not be judged until April 10, giving students time to study the software and develop a design. Maine’s winning team and its teacher will attend and compete in the all-expenses-paid national competition in Washington, D.C., which will be held in November 2014. Participating seniors who graduate from the state-winning team may also attend the national competition, expenses paid, if they travel from within the United States.

Every student on the winning national team will be offered a $50,000 scholarship to attend Embry Riddle College of Aeronautics. In addition, every teacher who participates in the RWDC receives $1 million in professional engineering software along with training, curriculum materials and access to mentors.

Registration is free, and teachers may register more than one team. Team registration will be available through Dec. 20.

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