NEDC Overview

Designing for Equity in Your Community

Simply stated, Designing for Equity means designing to minimize or eliminate barriers to opportunities for success. Designing for equity in your community allows the opportunity to think globally and act locally. 

some team photospopup

The theme for the 2021-22 MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition (NEDC) is Designing for Equity in Your Community

According to the World Health Organization, equity is the absence of avoidable or remedial differences. Those differences can be defined socially, physically, physiologically, geographically, economically, or demographically. Given the current state, Designing for Equity in Your Community has never been more important.

The Creative Reaction Lab, explains that “Equity-Centered Community Design is a unique creative problem solving process based on equity, humility-building, integrating history and healing practices, addressing power dynamics, and co-creating with the community. This design process focuses on a community’s culture and needs to create a future with equity for all. …Through Equity-Centered Community Design, we are building and supporting an emerging movement of equity designers who take on systems with self- and systemic-awareness of oppression, creativity, and action. These designers—students, activists, organizers, educators, government staff, hospital workers, and beyond—seek to disrupt and dismantle these challenges in, and with, their communities: school, city, family, culture, and so on.” 

Competition Overview

For this project, student teams will identify an individual or group who experiences some type of inequity (i.e., a user). Teams will employ human-centered design practices to engineer a solution. Teams must use a coding component as the main component of their design. Teams must use a community centered issue for their project.

Examples of Designing for Equity in Your Community can be (but are not limited to) projects that address:

  • A physical or learning disability;
  • Food scarcity;
  • Access to healthcare;
  • Access to clean water or other resources;
  • Access to employment or education; or
  • A social inequity.

Each competing team must consist of 2-4 students who are active members of a MESA program affiliated with the MESA USA national organization. Solutions and recommendation(s) for next steps will be presented at the MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition. The first place middle and high school teams from State events will participate in the national competition. This National Competition event will occur in June 2022 in New Mexico.

Competition Components

The components listed below will be used to assess the effective implementation of a human-centered design approach in the context of designing for equity, effective implementation of the engineering design process, and the functionality of the prototype.

High school and middle school teams selected to participate in the National Competition will compete in the four components below:

  1. Design Brief – The objective of the Design Brief is to provide a brief, non-technical overview of the entire project. Students must use the provided Design Brief Template.
  2. Technical Presentation and Interview – The objective of the Technical Presentation and Interview is to provide an overview of the prototype functionality including a technical explanation of the mechanical operations, software operations, and integration of the two. Students will deliver a short presentation, which includes a demonstration of the functionality of the prototype, followed by a question and answer session with judges.
  3. Poster and Symposium – The objective of the Poster is to provide an overview of the project, highlight key points of the design process, discuss relevant testing and data collection, present the resulting prototype, and share recommendations for further development. Students will prepare a printed academic poster, which will be used during a public poster symposium to provide an overview of the project and the prototype.
  4. Prototype Pitch – The objective of the Prototype Pitch is to convince the audience that the design meets the user’s needs and has value as a product to address an issue of inequity. Students will prepare a creative, engaging presentation to pitch their prototype to an audience, including a group of judges. The presentation should define the problem; should show how they address the theme of Designing for Equity in Your Community; provide a detailed description of the user and their needs; discuss current solutions to the problem and their weaknesses; and provide a demonstration of their prototype highlighting its advantages.

MESA USA strongly encourages teams to participate in all components at state-level competitions. However, states may opt not to do all components or alter some requirements for their local and state events as needed. Individual states will determine the dates and location of their respective events. Teams participating in the National Competition must compete in all four components described above.

Scoring Summary

Design Brief 50 points (15%)
Poster Symposium 75 points (23%)
Technical Presentation and Interview 100 points (31%)
Prototype Pitch 100 points (31%)
TOTAL 325 points (100%)
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