The Conrad Challenge: Where Students Create World-Changing Innovations

The Conrad Challenge

In this episode of the TeacherCast Podcast, we learn how the Conrad Challenge is promoting collaborative, student-centered, real world-relevant learning that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship, unleashing students’ potential to create future-defining solutions and a sustainable society for generations to come.

What is the Conrad Challenge?

Registration is now open for the 2018-2019 Conrad Challenge. Unlike any STEM competition out there, this annual event unleashes the potential of students to leave their mark on the world, using their innovation and entrepreneurial skills to address some of the most pressing global challenges. In its first 13 years, the Challenge has had student participants from more than 70 different countries.

The Conrad Challenge invites teams of 2-5 students between the ages of 13-18, along with a coach (who may be a teacher, administrator, business leader, or other adult) to innovate new products and services that address global issues in one of six categories:

  • Aerospace & Aviation
  • Cyber-Technology & Security
  • Energy & Environment
  • Health & Nutrition
  • Smoke-Free World ― special category for 2018-19 sponsored by The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World
  • Transforming Education with Technology ― special category for 2018-19 sponsored by SMART Technologies

Coaches and judges from the best in business, industry, research and academia worldwide will guide the teams’ innovative ideas. In February 2019, five teams in each challenge category will be chosen as finalists and travel to the annual Innovation Summit taking place April 24-27, 2019 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Finalist teams present their innovations before an esteemed panel of judges. Winning teams receive awards, investment opportunities, patent support, business services and scholarships to support the growth of their concepts into real businesses that can make real difference. At the end of the competition, teams maintain ownership of their Intellectual Property.

Interested teams should visit the Registration Form and 2018-2019 Conrad Challenge Overview for more information on this year’s competition. Registration will remain open until Friday, October 19, 2018 at [11:59] PM ET. Expert judges will then select semi-finalist teams in each challenge category who will be invited to develop comprehensive business plans for their innovation.

America’s Navy is proud to partner with the Pete Conrad Foundation to carry on the shared tradition of discovery, creativity and problem solving. For the fourth year, the Navy will sponsor the Conrad Challenge for and present the annual America’s Navy Gemini Award for Distinguished Innovation in the Spirit of Captain Pete Conrad to the team that best demonstrates the Navy’s characteristics of teamwork, innovation and hard work. Navy subject matter experts will also serve as panel judges, offering feedback based on their professional experience and knowledge in medicine, aviation, cyber technology and engineering.

About our Guests

Nancy Conrad

Nancy Conrad is the founding chairman of the Conrad Foundation, who produce the annual Conrad Challenge. A former teacher, Nancy has become a recognized leader in transformative education, serving as a featured speaker at national and international conferences. Her presentations include TED Long Beach, the Legatum Institute at MIT, and, at the invitation of HM King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz, she spoke at the Global Competiveness Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She also presented at the Global Diversity Leadership Conference at Harvard University and the National Modeling and Simulation Coalition conference in Washington, D.C. Nancy has also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology detailing how the Conrad Foundation exemplifies the use of partnership and mentorship to improve STEM education. She has been named one of the top 100 leaders in STEM education and currently serves on the board of directors of the Presidential Scholars. Follow Nancy on Twitter @inventioneer

ITS1 Will Johnson

Petty Officer First Class Will Johnson is a US Navy Sailor. Johnson grew up in Hebron, Kentucky and joined the Navy at 19 as a Submarine Nuclear Technician. He served as a Missile Technician before becoming an Information Systems Technician responsible for administering submarine networks and technology. Over the course of his ten-year career as a Navy Sailor and submariner, Johnson has served in Groton, CT; Kings Bay, GA; Bangor, WA and Diego Garcia, before moving to Millington, TN to join Navy Recruiting Command. He was hand selected to participate in the Navy’s social media recruiting pilot program which kicked off in Spring of 2018. Now, he brings his social media savvy and go-getter attitude to his work introducing young people to Navy careers. He is married with three kids.

Ankesh Madan

Ankesh is an accomplished Conrad Challenge alumnus, whose entrepreneurial focus was sparked by his participation in the Challenge. He competed in the challenge in 2010 while attending a high school that specializes in math and science in North Carolina. He and his team were finalists in the Renewable Energy category, and he is currently a member of the Conrad Alumni Leadership Council.

As an undergraduate at North Carolina State University, he and some fellow students co-founded Undercover Colors, a company that is addressing drug-facilitated sexual assault by developing products that detect date rape drugs. This invention sparked a flurry of media interest that spanned the globe. Here’s one article in the Washington Post. Undercover Colors is based in North Carolina, has raised $12M+ in capital from investors including Mark Cuban, and plans to release its first products this Fall.

Ankesh holds a B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from North Carolina State University and attended Duke University for two years of graduate education, after which he left his Ph.D. program to pursue a career in startups. Ankesh currently works at Propel(x), an investment platform that works to connect angel investors with deep science and technology startups that are working to bring groundbreaking innovations to market. He focuses primarily on sourcing, screening, and evaluating science-based investment opportunities for the platform.  (Follow Ankesh on Twitter: @AnkeshMadan)

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