TCEA’s 3D Design Contest

Through the 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 like engineers and rely on critical thinking skills to create inventions that have a meaningful impact on the world.

Contest Dates and Registration Information

Contest Registration: February 18 – March 1, 2019
Contest Design Entry: February 18 – April 5, 2019

Registration fee: $50 per team

**Payments or purchase orders must be received by the design submission deadline or the team will not be able to participate.

2019 Contest Prompt:

Tech Toys

Toying with Education – Design a 3D toy that incorporates a battery-powered LED lights and/or electric craft motor. Your toy should be engaging, educational and fun, but also consider the age of the intended audience, particularly regarding safety.

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 programs 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.
  • The Proof of Originality form and Non-Disclosure form, below, in the “Forms” section.

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 divisions. Students in grades 9-12 may compete in the advanced division 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 February 18 and April 5, 2019.
  • Participants must sign and submit the “Proof of Originality” form stating that they are the sole creators of their design.
  • Participants must sign and submit the “Non-Disclosure” regarding posting the designs online and other social media outlets.
  • Each school/educational entity may enter a max of (3) three teams per division. If a school/educational entity has more 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

** TCEA will post to our website only those contest entries who place in the top three per division and give us permission.


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)

** The top three designs per division will be announced in May. Teams will be awarded trophies for their schools and medals for each winning team member.



2019 Press Release


2018 Resources

*Please submit the 3D Design, logbook, and other supporting documents via the TCEA contest submission tool.

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