Outreach Engineering Challenge


Students receive a real-world problem faced by the INFINITY Science Center.  They must engineer (design and build) a prototype solution that meets the established needs and fits within the established challenge constraints. Students present their prototypes at an OCEANS 2020 Gulf Coast event. Graduate students will judge three categories:

  • grades K-8
  • grades 9-12
  • Community/Technical College

Select sponsors may provide one additional award of their choosing (e.g., Admiral’s Choice).


INFINITY Science Center is seeking an alligator-proof way to sample water in their neighboring ponds.  A system the can be deployed from land, maneuver to a given location, take the sample, and return to land for retrieval is required.  Additional requirements will be identified by committee members and INFINITY. Students are challenged to design and build a prototype to meet the requirements.

INFINITY staff have offered their assistance and resources to allow participants to test their designs at the Science Center and will provide a POC for this purpose.  The winning design will be implemented at INFINITY.

Students will register to participate, design a solution, present to a panel of judges during an afternoon judging session and display their prototype at the MTS/IEEE 2020 reception. Judges selected by the outreach panel will award points to entrants. Winners will be announced at the reception on Monday night. The challenge will be open to three categories of students: grades K-8, 9-12 and community/technical College.


November 2019 Registration opens.
November 2019 INFINITY online Q&A chat with interested parties.
February 2020 – July 2020 System testing at INFINITY
September 2020 Request confirmations from teams; share agenda details
October 2020 Competition; judging; showcase; awards.


MTS/IEEE conducts outreach in the surrounding geographic areas of their conferences in an effort to (1) increase awareness and understanding of ocean related sciences and engineering applications, (2) increase awareness ocean-related STEM education and careers and (3) promote stewardship of the marine environment.

The following are the intended audiences of the OAEDC throughout the state of Mississippi, the greater New Orleans metro area, greater Mobile area and Florida panhandle.

  • High school vocational/technical (Vo-Tech) students
  • Career-technical college students (associate-seeking)
  • High school extra-curricular clubs and organizations
  • Homeschooled students
  • Teachers and instructors
  • After-school organizations (e.g., Boys and Girls Club)
  • Any other interested parties meeting the qualifications of entry.

Congress and The White House, with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), have shifted the federal focus from undergraduate achievement to career/technical education. [i]

In August 2018, the House passed H.R. 2353, which includes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (also referred to as Perkins V. H.R. 2353 aims to close the skills gap that exists in the American STEM workforce. The House reauthorized $1.2 billion for the program, which hasn’t been reauthorized by Congress since 2006[ii]. Perkins V also focuses heavily on establishing clear career pathways to students enrolled in career technical education programs.

The purpose of this Act is to develop more fully the academic knowledge and technical and employability skills of secondary education students and postsecondary education students who elect to enroll in career and technical education programs…[iii]

A project such as OA EDC will target career/technical education students, increase awareness of technical support required for success in the marine technology field and highlight careers in the marine technology field.


  1. Teams must exist of at least one and no more than four (4) individuals. Ideally, one each engineer, programmer, communications, and graphic arts.
  2. All members of a team entering into the OAEDC must be either (1) currently enrolled in a state-approved primary or secondary school or community/junior college or (2) enrolled in said school/college in fall 2019, spring 2020 or summer 2020. (i.e., you may compete the summer following graduation/move/etc.)
  3. Teams with members from grades that cross challenge categories much choose which category in which they would like to enter prior to registration.
  4. Additional rules to be proposed and approved by committee.


Registration will be handled in three parts: (1) statement of intent, (2) confirmation and (3) check-in.

Statement of Intent: Groups intending to compete in the OAEDC would be required to register online between November 1, 2019 and December 15, 2019. The registration process would collect contact information, competition categories as well as other information pertinent to the execution of the EDC.

Confirmation: Participants would be asked to confirm participation between September 15, 2020, and October 2, 2020.

Check-In: Confirmed participants would check in to the MTS/IEEE OCEANS 2020 conference on Monday, October 19, 2020 at 10 a.m. Each participating team would be provided one table on which to display their prototype. Judging would commence at 11 a.m.  The presence of least two team representatives is required to be eligible for competition.  Prototypes must remain on display until 7 p.m.


Name first, second and third place awards in each category. (Total 9 awards) Each group will receive a plaque/trophy. Awards will be presented at the Welcome Reception at the Convention Center at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 19. Additional incentives may be included depending upon funding and partner participation.


Shannon Mensi, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Shannon.Mensi@nrlssc.navy.mil, 228-688-5328

Jeanne Allen, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, allen.jeanne@epa.gov

Laurie Jugan, Mississippi Enterprise for Technology, lajconsulting@bellsouth.net