Future Engineers is taking their 3D printing design competition to space. With a 3D printer now aboard the International Space Station (ISS), it arrived last night, Future Engineers has collaborated with NASA and the ASME Foundation to present a challenge to all K-12th graders to design a Space Tool. The contest will be judged in four categories. One concrete parameter is the 20MB max file that must be in STL format. While there are delineated guidelines, Future Engineers understands that contestants will be at different levels of expertise and will not hold slight excursions beyond the boundaries against entries. Thanks to this competition, a young student may have a design implemented as a practical (and hopefully ingenious) tool in space.
The guidelines provide written directions and visuals in order to present with clarity the proper format and form required for ISS tool consideration. The program launched on the 21st, and the contest will close December 15th with rounds for semi-finalists, finalists, and lastly the winner announced by the end of January. Three of the four categories assessing the submissions receive equal weight, but “innovation and creativity of the solution” carries the most heft at 40%. The other categories include the “ability to communicate the design through the Text Description and/or Finalist Interview,” “quality of the 3D Modeled Geometry and compliance with the Design Guidelines,” and “usefulness of the design in a Space Environment.”
The campaign includes multiple videos no longer that two minutes calling teens to action and providing a streamlined exposure to 3D printing jargon. It helps to encourage students to take advantage of the opportunity and claim international bragging rights. An astronaut and a mechanical engineer provide short video spurs and brief explanations of the contest, how to use and apply 3D printing terms, and an expression of how momentous it is to have a 3D printer in space that can potentially recycle older prints. With such a method, the hope is to never run out of printing material. With an emphasis on creativity, Future Engineers may be hard pressed to determine a definitive winner.