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Cornell Launches Prototype Challenge for Engineering Students

Cornell University is collaborating with a private partner to launch a six-month entrepreneurial competition.

Dubbed the "Pitch Your Prototype Challenge," the competition is a partnership between Cornell and Make: and asks engineering students to work in teams to design and fabricate an innovative prototype using maker principles such as open over proprietary, individual over institution, collaborative over competitive and practice over theory.

"At Cornell, we have always operated by fearless abandon of conventional rules in order to turn out engineers who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to make the world a better place," said David R. Schneider of Cornell Systems Engineering, founder of the Intel-Cornell Cup, in a prepared statement. "We firmly believe that through a relentless focus on interdisciplinary research and programs, transformative technology and hosting challenges like these motivate our students to truly stretch their creativity to engage in mindful design that solves for real world problems and needs."

Submissions, which will be accepted at through April 30, will be judged until May 18, in part by community voting, to reduce the field to five finalists. From there, judges from Make: and Cornell will select a winner based on five criteria:

  • The originality of the idea or product;
  • The idea or product's application to a real world problem or need;
  • The idea's commercial viability and target market;
  • Quality of submission materials and documentation of the prototype; and
  • Promotion of the prototype.

Judges will announce the winner at MakerCon New York, Make:'s conference held in September, one week before the World Maker Faire, also in New York. All five finalists will be invited to MakerCon New York and the first place winner will receive a $5,000 grant.

"We originally launched Make: magazine to provide an outlet for engineers. So in the evenings and on weekends, they could actually engage in designing, building, creating — making something. Our tagline was 'technology on your time,'" said Dale Dougherty, executive chairman and founder of Maker Media, Make: magazine and Maker Faire, in a prepared statement. "Too often, their jobs became management-focused and more theory-based, with little time to do what they really loved and became engineers to do. Fortunately, educational institutions like Cornell are changing up the curriculum and as a result changing the landscape, turning out Makers as well as managers."

More information is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at

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