Real World Design Challenge

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The Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) is an annual competition that provides high school students, grades 9-12, the opportunity to work on real world engineering challenges in a team environment. Each year, student teams will be asked to address a challenge that confronts our nation's leading industries.

The Real World Design Challenge focuses on increasing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce. Every teacher that participates in the RWDC gets $1 million in professional engineering software along with training, curriculum materials, and access to mentors. Teams of 3-7 high school students use these resources to solve an engineering challenge that is currently faced by industry.

Students first compete in a state level Governor's Cup. The team with the best design in each state gets an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to compete in the national finals.

The RWDC began in 2008 through a partnership between industry, government, academia, and non-profit. The partners were committed to bringing a program to schools that brought professional engineering resources into the classroom, was free to participate in, and could scale to every school in the United States. The partners brought together $263 million in resources and began working with governors to build an infrastructure of states to scale across the United States. The first year, ten states participated. And we have added states every year.

Note: In 2009-2010 Minnesota's Hutchinson High School was awarded Third Place for "Hutch Innovations".

For rules, sign up and state registration deadlines, visit

Topic Areas: 
Environmental Sciences
Target Audience: 
Grades 10-12
Grades 7-9
Geographic Location: 
All Minnesota
Outside Minnesota
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Real World Design Challenge
Project Director
Dr. Ralph K. Coppola

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