2024 NEDC Overview

Designing for Equity Locally to Affect Sustainability Globally

Simply stated, Designing for Equity means designing to minimize or eliminate barriers to opportunities for success. Designing for equity in your community allows the opportunity to think globally and act locally. 

some team photospopup

The theme for the 2024 MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition (NEDC) is Designing for Equity Locally to Affect Sustainability Globally

According to the World Health Organization, equity is the absence of avoidable or remedial differences. Those differences can be defined socially, physically, physiologically, geographically, economically, or demographically. Given the current state, Designing for Equity has never been more important.

The Creative Reaction Lab, explains that “Equity-Centered Community Design is a unique creative problem solving process based on equity, humility-building, integrating history and healing practices, addressing power dynamics, and co-creating with the community. This design process focuses on a community’s culture and needs to create a future with equity for all. …Through Equity-Centered Community Design, we are building and supporting an emerging movement of equity designers who take on systems with self- and systemic-awareness of oppression, creativity, and action. These designers—students, activists, organizers, educators, government staff, hospital workers, and beyond—seek to disrupt and dismantle these challenges in, and with, their communities: school, city, family, culture, and so on.”

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) drafted and adopted 17 goals, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as a universal call to action with the ultimate goal of ensuring peace and prosperity worldwide by 2030. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) oversees this effort, helping countries achieve the projected timeline. The UNDP explains, “The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.” See https://sdgs.un.org/goals for more information and goal breakdowns.

Competition Overview

For this project, student teams will identify an individual or group who experiences some type of inequity (i.e., a user). Teams will employ human-centered design practices to engineer a solution. Teams must use a coding component as the main component of their design. Teams must use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) in a community-centered capacity for their project. UN-SDG provides a broad view of global efforts to promote equity. Aligning to a goal will guide students in narrowing their focus to help their community. Team should achieve this by selecting a SDG Goal and identifying the SDG Target (i.e., 1.1, 1.2) the project is meant to address.

Each competing team must consist of 2-4 students who are active members of a MESA program affiliated with the MESA USA national organization. Solutions and recommendation(s) for next steps will be presented at the MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition. The first place middle and high school teams from State events will participate in the national competition. This National Competition event will occur in June 2024 in California.

Competition Components

The components listed below will be used to assess the effective implementation of a human-centered design approach in the context of designing for equity, effective implementation of the engineering design process, and the functionality of the prototype.

High school and middle school teams selected to participate in the National Competition will compete in the four components below:

  1. Design Proposal – The objective of the Design Proposal is to provide a brief, non-technical overview of the inspiration for the proposed solution. Students must use the provided Design Proposal Template (see Appendix).
  2. Academic Poster – The objective of the Poster is to provide an overview of the project, highlight key points of the design process, discuss relevant testing and data collection, present the resulting prototype, and share recommendations for further development. Students will prepare a printed academic poster, which will be used during a public poster symposium to provide an overview of the project and the prototype.
  3. Technical Pitch– The objective of the Technical Pitch is to allow students to establish their technical knowledge while they provide an overview of their design process and demonstrate their prototype functionality.
  4. Symposium – The objective of the symposium is to engage an audience in a conversation about the team’s design process. Students will share a verbal abstract of their project and be available to answer judges’ questions and discuss their project with them using supporting material to emphasize their points in a conference-like setting.

MESA USA strongly encourages teams to participate in all components at state-level competitions. However, states may opt not to do all components or alter some requirements for their local and state events as needed. Individual states will determine the dates and location of their respective events. Teams participating in the National Competition must compete in all four components described above.

Scoring Summary

Design Proposal 40 points (14%)
Academic Poster 58 points (20%)
Technical Pitch 100 points (35%)
Symposium 90 points (31%)
TOTAL 288 points (100%)
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