Student Contests - 3D Design

Enter TCEA’s First 3D Design Contest

Through the new 3D Design Contest from TCEA, you will promote STEM thinking as your high school students develop and design an invention to solve a real-world problem. From 3D printed prosthetics for amputees to emergency shelters that can be produced in 30 minutes flat, 3D printer technology has engineered some incredibly innovative fixes for the good of mankind.

This competition lets students become the creators. Teams of students will be tasked with identifying a problem and using the Engineering Design Process (see below) and 3D modeling software to solve it. They will approach their problem like engineers and rely on critical thinking skills to create inventions that have a meaningful impact on the world.

Contest Winners
Certificate of Participation

Engineering Design Process

Student teams entering the competition will be expected to use the Engineering Design Process to create their designs. This process is a series of steps that engineers undertake to reach solutions. These steps may be repeated multiple times until the problem is solved:

  • Research
  • Plan
  • Prototype
  • Document and Test
  • Commercialize

The process is just as important as the outcome. Students will be expected to carefully log their Engineering Design Process in a digital logbook, in the format of their choosing.

Getting Started

No 3D printer is required for this contest. Students will be judged not on a physical final product, but on the design, presentation, and engineering process logbook.

Teams will however require access to 3D modeling software. Any software may be used to create the design, but the file must be submitted to TCEA in a .STL or .OBJ file format.

There are numerous 3D design softwares available at varying price points. Public schools can request copies of SketchUp Pro through TCEA. The software is normally $495 per license, but is provided by TCEA free of charge. Private schools can purchase copies of the software for as little as $15 per seat.

Contest Parameters and Rules

Student teams will need to provide the following deliverables to submit a complete contest entry:

  • The team’s final design, in a .STL or .OBJ format
  • A digital logbook outlining the team’s step-by-step notes, sketches, and documentation from throughout the design process. The logbook should define the problem that is being solved and describe in detail each step of the Engineering Design Process taken during the creation of the invention.
  • A presentation—not to exceed one minute in length—that markets the invention. The presentation can be in the form of a video or through any presentation tool, including: PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Prezi. Presentations longer than the one-minute limit will not be viewed or considered for judging.


In entering the contest, all teams and sponsors must adhere to the following rules:

  • Contest is open to students in grades 9-12.
  • Each team will consist of one team sponsor and no more than four students. Students may only participate on one team.
  • The team sponsor must be an active TCEA member for the duration of the contest season.
  • Team names should meet common school standards.
  • Contest work must take place between March 1 and March 31, 2017.
  • Participants must sign and submit the “Proof of Originality” form stating that they are the sole creators of their design.
  • Each school may submit only one team’s entry. If a school has multiple teams that want to participate, they are encouraged to run their own contest and submit the winner’s entry to TCEA.
  • Again, you do not need to submit an actual printed design as part of your entry.


Each team’s entry will be judged on the following categories:

  • Originality
  • Feasibility
  • Functionality
  • Sustainability


Additionally, the deliverables will be weighted in importance accordingly:

  • Engineering Design Process Logbook (50 percent)
  • 3D Design (25 percent)
  • Presentation (25 percent)

For a detailed rubric of judging criteria please see here. The top five designs will be announced in May. Teams will be awarded trophies for their schools and medals for each winning team member.

Proof of Originality Form

Please submit this form along with your 3D Design, logbook, and other supporting documents via the TCEA contest submission tool.

Download Form


Membership Questions:
Erin Taylor
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