Registration has officially opened for the 2020-2021 Conrad Challenge, now celebrating its 15th year of driving student entrepreneurship across a variety of STEM fields. One of the most highly ranked STEM competitions globally, the annual Challenge invites students between the ages of 13-18 from around the world to form teams of 2-5 and develop sustainable solutions to global challenges. Along the way, coaches and judges from the best in business, industry, research and academia worldwide guide the teams’ development of their innovative ideas.

Founded and chaired by Nancy Conrad to honor the legacy of her late husband, entrepreneur and third man to walk on the Moon, Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad, the Conrad Foundation produces the Conrad Challenge each year, not only to provide students the opportunity to create innovative solutions benefitting global sustainability, but also to prepare them for success in the global workplace.

“Our Challenge provides the ideal platform for students and educators who are now navigating a very different upcoming school year. Student participants learn to measure success in terms of creativity, collaboration and a commitment to creating a better future for all of us,” said Conrad. “This year is extra special as we celebrate reaching the 15-year milestone of empowering students to design a sustainable future and collaborate digitally, without borders.”

With the 2020-21 Challenge’s special emphasis on sustainability, students will address global challenges in any of seven categories

  • Aerospace & Aviation
  • Cyber-Technology & Security 
  • Energy & Environment, presented by Dell Technologies and featuring a special sustainable packaging challenge
  • Health & Nutrition
  • Reducing & Eliminating E-Cigarette Waste, presented by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World
  • Repurposed Farmlands & Tobacco Crops, presented by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World
  • Oceans: The Plastic Problem, an all-new category presented by the Winsor Foundation in collaboration with the Prince Albert II Foundation. 

Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, the Conrad Challenge pivoted from its previously planned Round 3 event, usually held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, celebrating the top five Finalist teams from each category. The Challenge instead hosted its first-ever Virtual Innovation Summit using the online event platform Hopin, which received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants. At the Virtual Innovation Summit, student teams presented their innovations before an esteemed panel of judges and were allowed a 15-minute Q&A session, as well as community and team building sessions. Throughout the online event, students, educators, Challenge alumni, subject matter experts, judges and corporate sponsors alike were able to interact directly as well as attend the live-streamed opening and awards ceremonies.

Teams who were awarded the Challenge’s top honor and recognized as Pete Conrad Scholars qualified for scholarships, independent product assessment studies, speaking engagements, patent support and business services to support the growth of their concepts. As there are still many unknowns as to what global health and safety regulations will be in place next spring, the Conrad team will be announcing its plans for either a virtual or in-person 2021 Innovation Summit by February 1, 2021.

Teams interested in participating this season should visit the registration page and 2020-2021 Conrad Challenge Overview for more information on this year’s competition. Registration will remain open until Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 at 11:59 PM EST, when all registered teams must have submitted the requirements for Round 1: The Investor Pitch. Expert judges will then select teams in each Challenge category who will advance to develop comprehensive business plans for their innovation in Round 2 of the competition.

About the Conrad Foundation

The Conrad Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting collaborative, student-centered, real world-relevant learning that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. Through its programs, the Foundation unleashes students’ potential to create impactful solutions and a sustainable society for generations to come. For more information about the Conrad Foundation, its Challenge, or the 2020-2021 competition, visit www.conradchallenge.org.

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eSchool News Staff


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