Sponsored by NASA and administered by the Texas Space Grant Consortium, since Fall 2002, the TSGC DESIGN CHALLENGE is a unique academic experience offering undergraduate students an opportunity to propose, design and fabricate a solution to a topic of importance to NASA and its mission.
DESIGN CHALLENGE topics are submitted by researchers working with NASA or its contractor community on current projects of interest. Student teams work on the topic of their choice over the course of one or two semesters. The overall experience pairs the student team and faculty advisor with a research-directed mentor; and provides student team members with an opportunity to engage in scientific research, hands-on design, space-related career opportunities, meeting presentation and educational outreach.
As DESIGN CHALLENGE teams progress through a series of Levels and Option Areas, they are involved in taking a real-world research topic of interest from the idea-stage to an actual workable design.
Because progress is team-directed, the overall program is able to accommodate a variety of design sequences taught in institutions of higher learning throughout the State of Texas [one-semester design, two-semester design, design and build, etc.]. Seven team-directed increments [BASE, three specific design Levels, and three Option Areas] allow teams to decide how far they will take the design initiative while accumulating funds to support the team's effort. Up to two teams per year per institution will be fully-funded to participate - based upon availability of projects and funding.
Monetary awards are made available to individual teams upon satisfactory completion of design Levels. Teams are also eligible to receive travel grant funds to support team travel to the end of semester Design Challenge Showcase and assist student-members with off-campus learning, site visits, outreach ventures or meeting participation.
Please see Timeline and Deadlines for the current semester's DESIGN CHALLENGE Program.
The TSGC DESIGN CHALLENGE strives to engage students in research, invention and design; encourage students to study and seek careers in space-related fields, enable faculty to further research and teaching opportunities; and where needed, help institutions promote design projects as a complement to required course work.
DESIGN CHALLENGE goals are multi-fold in order to:
- provide students with an opportunity to solve real-world problems of interest to NASA or its space-research affiliated contractor community.
- encourage institutions of higher learning to implement, improve or expand the design project curriculum.
- develop opportunities for student research, training and design
- engage students and faculty in the design process
- retain student interest in academic pursuits that lead to space-related careers
- promote diversity via collaborations outside the immediate academic community
- provide resources to motivate faculty advisors of student design teams
- secure bonds between academia and industry via student/mentor relationships
- foster higher-level teaming of faculty and mentors
DESIGN CHALLENGE objectives seek to:
- establish design teams among TSGC member institutions
- implement, improve or expand the design curriculum in institutions of higher learning
- pair mentors from industry with student teams and faculty
- create opportunities for public outreach including a link to K-12 learning
- maintain interest among student team members in pursuing space-related careers
- provide career information to students about space-related internships and programs
- promote avenues for higher level teaming
DESIGN CHALLENGE topics are submitted by NASA researchers, members of the NASA contractor community, and TSGC members involved in space-related research and design. All topics relate to a relevant area of research within NASA's Vision for Space Exploration.:
Research groups submitting DESIGN CHALLENGE topics provide a mentor to work with each team involved in a design submitted by the group. Announcement of DESIGN CHALLENGE topics and all program guidelines are available for download via this TSGC DESIGN CHALLENGE website.
The TSGC DESIGN CHALLENGE is housed at the Texas Space Grant Consortium offices within the Center for Space Research in Austin, Texas. The program's administrator is Dr. Tim Urban.
The Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) is part of a National Space Grant network made up of 52 Space Grant consortia which includes over 350 colleges and universities. Texas Space Grant was formed in 1989, and is the largest among the 52 national consortia. Its membership currently includes 34 organizations (both academic and industry) which work together to develop a balanced program of higher education, research infrastructure and public service projects. Visit the TSGC website to learn more about TSGC educational initiatives.
TSGC objectives remain to:
- foster sharing of space related course materials among the Consortium's academic institutions;
- foster the development of multi-institutional space research efforts to include industry/university teaming;
- foster high quality undergraduate and graduate level space research at the Consortium's academic institutions;
- use interest in space to encourage increased participation in science and mathematics in the public schools;
- foster space-related programs and curricula for public schools and for the general public;
- increase the pool of high school graduates (with an emphasis on under-represented minorities and women) who enter college to study science, mathematics, and engineering.