The Soldier Design Competition (SDC) was established in 2003 to engage undergraduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the activities of the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN), and in 2004 was expanded to include cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA). Beginning with SDC16, the finals of which will be held in April 2019, the competition has become the ISN-Lincoln Laboratory Soldier Design Competition thanks to a new partnership with MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
Drawing on the academic, military, and industry communities that make up ISN and Lincoln Lab, the SDC provides students with hands-on experience in the design and prototyping of technology solutions to real world problems in protection, survivability, and mission capabilities faced by Soldiers, other warfighters, and first responders. Specific challenges are tied to the six U.S. Army Modernization Priorities that now provide the underpinnings for the U.S. Army Futures Command's cross-functional teams, plus an open design challenge that is defined by the team in consultation with the SDC Coordinator.
A panel of leaders from the Army, industry, and MIT determines winning prototypes. To date, the SDC has engaged more than 400 MIT students and USMA cadets, who have generated more than a dozen startup companies.