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A Nationwide Internet Based Engineering Design Contest For K 12 Outreach

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.63.1 - 6.63.10



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Paper Authors

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Eugene Ressler

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Steven Schweitzer

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Stephen Ressler

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2215

A Nationwide Internet-Based Engineering Design Contest for K-12 Outreach

Stephen J. Ressler, Eugene K. Ressler, Steven Schweitzer United States Military Academy


This paper describes the development and ongoing implementation of the West Point Bicentennial Engineering Design Contest—a nationwide competition for K-12 students, to be conducted during Academic Year 2001-2002. The concept for the contest is unique, in that students will register, enter, have their entries judged, and receive performance feedback entirely via the Internet. In this paper we describe the contest goals and the planned sequence of events. We then discuss the unique challenges in software development, website development, and contest administration that have been addressed throughout the planning process. We conclude with an assessment of the prospects for successful implementation of the contest in the coming year.


The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, was established by Congress in 1802. The Academy was intended not only to educate officers for the U. S. Army, but also to address the young nation’s critical need for engineers—both military and civilian. West Point is generally recognized as the first school of engineering in the United States, and its 19th Century graduates made a substantial contribution to the development of the nation’s infrastructure. According to Grayson, “Of the engineering graduates engaged in public works before 1840, a sizable fraction were West Point graduates, and at least 30 percent of them served as chief engineers of important projects on railways, canals, docks, wharves, roads, and other non- military activities.” 1

Today USMA is preparing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its founding. As part of the celebration, the Academy will commemorate its proud engineering heritage by conducting a nationwide engineering design contest for K-12 students.

The idea for the design contest originated with the Bicentennial Steering Group, a strategic planning committee charged with organizing the entire West Point Bicentennial. Given the civil engineering focus of the early USMA curriculum, the committee decided that a balsa bridge- building competition would be an appropriate format for the contest. Given the nature of the proposed project, responsibility for detailed planning and implementation of the contest fell to the USMA Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering.

Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Ressler, E., & Schweitzer, S., & Ressler, S. (2001, June), A Nationwide Internet Based Engineering Design Contest For K 12 Outreach Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9593

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