How the SDC Works

SDC teams have wide latitude in choosing their project topics, which do not at all have to be nano-related. Projects on ISR, energy, communications and networking, unmanned vehicles, novel materials, innovative electronic and photonic circuits and devices, detection of adverse substances, PNT, medical monitoring, and many more subjects are all welcome.

Teams compete for attractive cash prizes - prizes of $5k, $4k, $3k, and $2k - and have the opportunity to network with and obtain recognition from senior leaders from industry, the Army, Lincoln Lab, and campus.

Once a team has been identified, members of the ISN headquarters staff will meet with them to guide them in the construction of a short (7 minute) Powerpoint presentation, advising them on how best to focus on the military applications of their research.

At the Finals on April 30, 2019, each team delivers the 7 minute presentation on their project, which must be accompanied by a hardware or software prototype, to a panel of distinguished judges from the Army, industry and academia.  The prototypes can be at an early stage of maturity.

Following the presentation period, teams participate in a poster session during which they have the opportunity to provide additional information on their work to judges and invited guests, after which the judges deliberate.

Winners are chosen based on their scores in four categories: innovativeness, technical strength, solution feasibility, and fieldability potential. These judging criteria are further defined below, and are weighted equally.

  • Innovative Approach: Did the team "think outside the box" for a fresh view? Is creative and innovative technology involved in the design?
  • Technical Strength: How rigorous was the team's approach and depth of technical analysis?
  • Solution Feasibility: Could the proposed solution do the task following the approach established by the team?
  • Fieldability Potential: Does the solution help in terms of reduced size, weight, power, coast, logistics, etc.?

Team members should be present for the duration of the Finals, which run from 2:30-8:00pm. Dinner will be provided for all participants.

A major SDC goal is to provide a strong educational experience through learning how to work as a team to solve an important real-world problem using novel technology.  Thus, learning and applying systems thinking in a team setting is a further benefit of participation.