SEAS Innovation Challenge


The purpose of the SEAS Innovation Challenge is to foster innovative thinking in a multidisciplinary team environment as students use technology to help meet an existing challenge. In the 2017-2018 Challenge, students will use technology to develop and demonstrate the most innovative solution to identified current needs in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria. Students may compete in the Challenge as individuals or members of a team.

The disaster caused by Hurricane Maria has had devastating effects on Puerto Rico, where more than 3.4 million American citizens live. As of late October, the majority of the island remains without cellphone coverage, and approximately 79% of the island has no electricity. Experts estimate that it will take 10-12 months to restore its electrical grid.

The innovation challenge prizes are:

  • 1st Place - $2,500
  • 2nd Place - $1,500
  • 3rd Place - $1,000

Please read on for: competition eligibility and rules, the competition timeline, contact information, the competition entry form, and information about mentoring and support.

Eligibility & Competition Rules

SEAS Students: SEAS undergraduate or graduate students may participate in the competition either as individuals or in teams.  The teams may include non-SEAS, GW students, but all teams must include at least one current SEAS student, who may be an undergraduate or graduate student.

GW (non-SEAS) Students: GW students who are not SEAS students may participate in the competition as members of a team.  At least one team member must be a current SEAS undergraduate or graduate student.

Projects: Participants must use technology as part of the completed project.  Because of Puerto Rico’s unstable grid, off-grid projects are recommended.  SEAS can provide Raspberry-Pi kits or similar technology to teams if needed, but the usage of Raspberry-Pi is not required.  Participants may add at their own discretion and expense any and all items needed to complete their projects.

Note: Although one phase of judging takes place during the SEAS Student R&D Showcase, individuals and teams do not have to compete in the R&D Showcase to qualify for the SEAS Innovation Challenge.  The Challenge and the R&D Showcase are two separate competitions.

Qualifying Review & Competition Timeline

Application deadline and entry form: Each individual/team must submit their application electronically to Monica Kavathekar by the NEW DEADLINE 5:00 pm on Monday, January 8, 2017.  The SEAS Innovation Challenge entry form is available for download on the SEAS website.

Executive summary deadline: Each individual/team must submit the executive summary by January 15, 2018.  The Challenge judging Team will convene and choose the fifteen best proposals from those submitted.  The finalists will be announced by January 18, 2018.

Video and prototype demonstration: Each finalist (individual or team) must prepare and submit a YouTube video with a maximum length of five minutes. Each individual/team must explain the goal of the project, the design approach, and the status of the design, and present a demonstration of the prototype by Monday, January 22, 2018.

Spring progress report: Each finalist (individual or team) must submit a poster presentation and prototype demonstration in March 2018 (an exact date will be provided later).

Final demonstration and judging: Each finalist (individual or team) must submit a poster and prepare an oral presentation and prototype demonstration for the Challenge review committee. The final judging will take place in May 2018 (an exact date will be provided later).

Mentoring & Support

Individuals and teams may consult GW professors, alumni, and staff as mentors on their project.  Mentors may supply advice only and must not actively participate in the design, construction, testing, or demonstration of their projects.  The SEAS Innovation Challenge organizing team will facilitate team creation and provide mentoring throughout the process.

Download the Entry Form

To register as a participant, please download and submit the SEAS Innovation Challenge entry formEach individual/team must submit their application electronically to Monica Kavathekar by the NEW DEADLINE 5:00 pm on Monday, January 8, 2018.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the competition, please contact Monica Kavathekar.