TCEA’s 3D Design Contest

Through the new 3D Design Contest from TCEA, you will promote STEM thinking as your students develop and design an invention to solve a TCEA supplied 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. A prompt for an engineering design challenge is provided each year. Students will use the Engineering Design Process (see below) and 3D modeling software to create a solution. 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 Registration: February 19 – March 5, 2018
Contest Design Entry: March 5- March 30, 2018

Sign Up Your Team

Contest Registration:
February 19 – March 5, 2018

Register Now

2018 Contest Prompt:

Texas Weather
They say, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait a minute, and it will change.” Texas is definitely a state of wildly differing weather conditions. Think about some of the problems our weather causes, be it problems with extreme heat, drought, wildfires, flash floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, etc. Design something to help meet a need or solve a problem associated with weather. You can design an original product or improve an existing one. Your design can be a scaled-down model of a solution that would be much larger in real-life.

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:

  • Open to grades 6-12, with a competition for grades 6-8 and another for 9-12. Students in grades 6-8 may compete in either intermediate or advanced. Students in grades 9-12 may compete in advanced only.
  • 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 5 and March 30, 2018.
  • Participants must sign and submit the “Proof of Originality” form stating that they are the sole creators of their design.
  • Each school/educational entity may submit only one team’s entry. If a school/educational entity 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)
  • Marketing Plan Presentation (25 percent)


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


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