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+ Dates, Eligibility, and Resources | + Submission Requirements | + Evaluation Criteria |
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For the 2018-2019 (US Only) ARMD University Design Challenge:

To assist colleges with later semester end dates, paper due date has been extended to no later than June 15, 2019.     Notices of intent are requested by February 15, 2019. 


1. Questions about either challenge should be sent to contest admin email:   NASA responses will be posted with the questions, anonymously, on our Question and Answer page.

2. This challenge is not open to non-US institutions.  We can only accept entries from US institutions. 

3. AVOID CONFLICT OF INTEREST:  Students and/or team faculty advisors may NOT contact or consult with NASA engineers, employees, or any person doing contract or grant work in the challenge area, including industry or academe during the time of the contest (Sept 2017-June 2018).

4. Students must demonstrate that their work is original and that only students were part of the design process from beginning to end.  The faculty advisor is responsible to verify that the work is original, done entirely by the students, and is free of plagiarism.

5.  A summary of a thorough literature review is required and should become the foundation of the design paper.

6.  OTHER CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:  University Faculty advisors who are receiving NASA or Industry funds should disclose the source of funding in the verification letter required for the student’s submission of an entry.  Funds received from NASA or Industry to perform research at the university in the same area as the challenge may be grounds for disqualification.  Please write to the contest administrator with questions about funding if you receive funds in the challenge area or if there is any question about a conflict of interest.

7. Papers found to have plagiarized material will be automatically disqualified.

ALL COMPETITORS:   Student teams or faculty advisors may NOT consult with NASA engineers, employees, or anyone (Industry or Academe) doing professional contract or grant work in this area.    Students must show that their work is original and that only students were part of the design process.  The faculty advisor is responsible to verify that the work is original, done entirely by the students, and is free of plagiarism. 

Notices of intent are submitted by email and should contain the following information:

Subject line: ARMD University Competition
Body of message contents:

  • student leader’s name(s)
  • faculty advisor’s name
  • name of college
  • name of department(s) participating
  • location of college (city and state)
  • level of study for all participating student(s) (freshmen undergraduate through  graduate school)
  • email and phone number for student lead
  • email and phone number for faculty adviser


Any US college or university in the USA or its territories is eligible to enter the competition.  Students who are receiving NASA funds for research projects or who are working on a NASA funded project for a faculty member must disclose this information in their notice of intent and in their entry packet.

Failure to do so may result in disqualification for the student and/or the entire team.   Entries should not be submitted if a student on the team or  a team faculty advisor is doing paid research, either for government or industry, in the challenge area.

Students may not consult with NASA employees (civil servant, contract, grantee) or industry professionals working in the area of the challenge.  See below for literature review information.

Foreign student on a team with US Citizens may participate, but the team must have students of US Citizenship.

Undergraduate Competitors must be teams of two or more students; individual undergraduate students may not participate by themselves.  Graduate students may enter as individuals if they are enrolled in graduate school and have completed at least one full semester.  However, teaming is strongly suggested, even for graduate students.

Students are required to do a thorough literature review of past work in this area to better inform their decision making in the design process.  A brief summary of their literature is required in the paper.

Teams MAY NOT consult with non university researchers to review their draft papers or give feedback on their design ideas.  Any oral references (phone or in person conversations) should be identified by footnote and with reference citations providing the contact information listed for the interviewee.    Oral references MAY NOT include current or recently retired NASA or Industry employees if they worked or work in the area of the challenge.

Note to faculty and team leads:

A supervising or advising faculty member must submit a letter to endorse each entry. The letter should address the following:  The faculty member reviews and approves the student entry before it is submitted to NASA. The faculty should  affirm that students did the research and writing themselves and that none of the students are receiving NASA funds for a research project in any way related to the competition.  Faculty should affirm that they too are not receiving funds for research in the challenge area.  Faculty letter should verify that none of the team consulted with NASA employees, Industry employees, grant or contract employees or any professional working in the challenge area.  Students are required to do a thorough literature review of work in this area to better inform their decision making in the design process.

Detailed reference documents and contacts for NASA aeronautics projects can be found at


If students  have questions about the submission requirements, evaluation criteria, format of the paper, technical information, or other contest related information, please write to Dr. Liz Ward, competition coordinator, at    All questions and the answers will be posted anonymously on the contest Q&A page.

NASA’s Systems Engineering Handbook
This handbook is provided to acquaint teams on the guidelines for good systems engineering practices unique to NASA.
Click here to download the NASA Systems Engineering Handbook.