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+ Dates, Eligibility, and Resources | + Submission Requirements | + Evaluation Criteria |
+ Contest Q&A
| + Awards | + Past Awardees
ONLY USA Colleges and Universities may enter this challenge.  We cannot accept entries from non-US institutions.

Student Release Form
A student release form is required for all entries. Please download

and sign the Student Release Form. If student is over 18 years of age, the student can sign the form; if the student is under 18, a parent or guardian must also sign the form.  Scan the signed form, save file as a pdf and email to elizabeth.b.ward@nasa.gov along with your all of your
entry files. You may list every team member on one form and have them all sign on one page for their acknowledgement of the student release form content. 

Release Form (word document) (revised 1/19/2010)


Submission requirements and Format for all entries
NOTE: All submissions must be submitted in the English language.  Student submissions shall be treated as being free of restrictions and limitations on their use, reproduction, and publication.

To assist colleges with later semester end dates, paper due date has been extended to no later than June 15, 2018.     This challenge is not open to non-US institutions.

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

Final Entry Due:   June 15, 2018

Entries are submitted by email and should contain the following information in the body of the email:

To: elizabeth.b.ward@nasa.gov
Subject line: 2018 University Competition
Body of message contents:

  • Name of challenge you wish to enter:
  • 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


All entries will be submitted electronically via email to Elizabeth.b.ward@nasa.gov
Subject line: 2018 University Contest

Follow the format below on naming and saving the files*:

All Entries need to submit the following as attachments to the email:

1. The digital copy of the entry as ONE document file to include introductory material, title page, body of work, references, charts, figures, scanned endorsement letter from faculty, ancillary material, disclosure of NASA funding if applicable, etc. Name the file according to the rules below. Save as .pdf, no other file formats will be accepted. All papers must be written in English. Follow naming file instructions below.

NOTE:  Files larger than 10 MB will not go through our servers.  Please reduce the file size of graphics and images in the paper so that the file is less than 10 MB.  If the reduction of resolution of graphics and images does not get it below the 10 MB, email Dr. Ward for further instructions.

The files need to be received on or before June 15, 2018; don’t wait til the last minute to check the file size and reduce the resolution of embedded graphs, charts or images.

  • In a separate email that is submitted on the same day, attach these files with the subject line:
    TEAM [insert team leaders name], OTHER FILES
  • A high-resolution digital photograph of themselves at school or in the case of a team, a digital photograph of the team at school. Name the photograph file with the last name of the student or team lead and submit as .jpg or .tiff. Include in the body of the email a caption to identify students in the photo from left to right. None of the images will be reviewed; they are only for use in announcing the winners and honorable mentions. For print media, images should be saved at the highest resolution possible, 300 dpi is preferred.
  • A high-resolution digital image of the vehicle design. A caption for the vehicle design should be included in the body of the email and should include name of student or team lead, name of school, and name of vehicle if a name has been given to it. Save as .jpg or .tiff. For print media, images should be saved at the highest resolution possible, 300 dpi is preferred. If you built a model, please include a photo of the model with the team.
  •  The student release forms for each team member for small teams, for larger teams, the student release form with signature page for every team member. Save all of these into one pdf file and email as the above files.

*Naming and saving your files, please follow the instructions below*:

Entry: Collegename_Teamleadlastname.pdf
Photo: Collegename_teamleadname.jpg
Vehicle image: Teamleadname_vehicle.jpg
Student release forms: Teamleadname.releases.pdf

DO NOT use NASA, contest, or title of your entry in file names. Abbreviated college names are acceptable. Example, University of Virginia to UVA, etc.

Format for Entry

NOTE, Plagiarism is not tolerated.  Under no circumstances should students copy the words or ideas of others without proper documentation. If students use ideas or words of others, they should give credit to their source of information using a standard reference or footnote format. Papers submitted with plagiarized material will be disqualified.

Entire entry (except introductory and ancillary material) is limited to 25 single sided pages, 12 pt. font minimum, no less than single spaced, pages numbered in lower right hand corner. All figures, photos, and illustrations must be have captions. All references should follow a standard citation format. Paper should be well organized and use headings and subheadings to help make transitions between sections. Writing should be clear and concise.  Content of appendices can not be counted in the score, make sure all relevant information is in the paper itself. Do not refer reviewers to see information in the appendices if the information is critical to the design.

Introductory material, required but does not count in 25-page limit:

1. Title page with name of project, name of institution or sponsoring organization, faculty advisor(s), student team lead(s), date submitted.
2. List of student team members and level of study (undergraduate year or graduate year)
3. One page abstract of the study.
4. Faculty advisor’s disclosure statement of any NASA funds received by students or faculty member and faculty endorsement and confirmation that all work and writing was done by the students without professional assistance.

Main Section (firm 25 page limit) must include:

NOTE (APPENDICES WILL NOT BE REVIEWED, MAKE SURE ALL PERTINENT INFORMATION IS IN THE MAIN BODY):

1. Introduction and brief review of relevant literature (include any oral references).
2. Discussion of the proposed design and the baseline aircraft.
3. Detailed design specifications, feasibility analysis, cost estimates, and suggestions for practical application/testing.  Include required Tables, Figures, Images.

4. Conclusion and recommendations for further study.

Other required material not counted in the 25 page limit)
• List of references using standard citation format

The following are describe above and should be emailed the same day the paper is submitted.

• High resolution digital image of team with a caption, saved as .jpg

• Digital image of the design saved as .jpg at high resolution

  • Signed Student release forms for each team member/larger teams may combine into one signature page.

Ancillary, Optional, Material (the 25-page limit does not include this section):

List of student mailing addresses for certificates/review results (optional)
Appendices as desired (optional)  NOTE:   Appendices will NOT be reviewed as part of the paper’s score and ranking.