Providing a low-cost or affordable experience for students


Inspiring an interest in engineering and related career pathways


Equipping students with skills that will help prepare them for future careers

Engineering Machine Design Contest

Opportunity for teams of 3-12 students.

Design and build a complex machine using everyday objects with the guidance of a coach.

The completed machine will use multiple steps to complete a simple task. Teams showcase and exhibit their machine at a regional contest with the opportunity to advance to the Engineering Machine Design Championship. Teams are scored on a Team Journal, Team Presentation, and Machine Design and Operation.

Contest Theme

Each year a competition theme is chosen to guide the machine build and allow for whimsical creativity to flourish. Students are able to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) principles while having fun in a collaborative environment. 


Junior Division

5th-8th Grade

Senior Division

9th-12th Grade

Team Inputs


Over 40% of teams spend $51-100 per year on:

Time Preparing for EMDC

Over 40% of teams spend 31-40 hours per year preparing for the EMDC. 

There is large variability regarding the number of months teams prepare for the EMDC.

Over 40% of team spend 1-2 hours per week preparing for the EMDC.


NAE Grand Engineering Challenges

Creating awareness and connection to real-world challenges is an important aspect of the Engineering Machine Design Contest. Each year’s theme is chosen in consideration with current topics and aligned to the National Academy of Engineering  Grand Engineering Challenges.

Although teams are not required to design a machine directly related to the grand challenges, they are encouraged to use the Engineering Grand Challenges as an inspiration point and connection to real-world problems.

Academic Standards

The Engineering Machine Design Contest can be used by educators to address the Next Generation Science Standards for Middle School and High School Engineering Design ( MS-ETS1 and   HS-ETS1).

Program Sponsors



Senior Division Coach

Science & Technology Teacher

What an awesome event for students to participate in. This STEM program is the WHOLE package!  It not only hits on engineering and science, but strengthens skills in public speaking, writing (journal), creativity, problem-solving, and artistic abilities. You will not find a better low-cost STEM program  for students to get excited about!


Senior Division Coach

Science & Physics Teacher

A great experience for students to apply their STEM knowledge to a real-life problem. Very well run and organized and tons of support provided. We loved our experience and look forward to next year!


Senior Division Coach

Science & Mathematics Teacher

My students have competed in the Engineering Machine Design Competition for several years at the regional level. This year we made it to the Championship competition that was held virtually. My students have learned so much through the  engineering process and problem-solving. The collaboration on this project is  not only STEM but also public speaking, art, and teamwork. This competition meets NGSS Standards and 21st-century skills.


Junior Division Coach

Design & Engineering Lab Director

The Engineering Center of Excellence demonstrated an unwavering commitment to supporting students in their efforts to design the future. The EMDC was carefully planned and supported and well-executed. The cadre of judges  inspired students to rise and exceed every expectation while they  solved real-time problems while working collaboratively. Students call it ‘ hard fun‘.


Junior Division Coach

Technology & Media Teacher

I loved this. My students loved this . One of our team members, who often has behavioral challenges, excelled in this program. He rocked this experience and emerged as a positive leader . This student also came to respect and appreciate students who may have different talents than he possessed. He looked at them through new goggles. I hope this program continues to grow. I had another team member who was never a behavior problem but just kind of existed in school. He tests off the charts but often seems bored with daily school work. He ate this up . He wants to continue to compete at the Senior level.


Championship Judge

Industry Professional

This program is well organized. Through proper coaching, this program allows students the opportunity to  function as part of a team to solve problems using a clear process. It can help teach both engineering principles and soft/interpersonal skills. The students I saw in the competition were all  positive, passionate, professional, and mature. They looked like they were enjoying themselves and their projects were well done. It was a great experience.


Championship Judge

Business and Entrepreneurship Consultant

This is exactly the kind of experience that builds true self-esteem and skills in young people  and could help build a stronger pipeline of a diverse group of new engineers  in the future. As a person that helps young people with entrepreneurial ideas, this type of competition could be what sparks a new inventor or convinces a young person  they do have what it takes to lead.


Championship Judge

Integrated Engineering University Faculty

This year was my first time serving as a judge and I was *blown away* by how creative and inspiring the students were. I absolutely loved seeing the variety of approaches they took and hearing about their experiences with the program and the competition. I would recommend being a judge without hesitation!


Regional and Championship Judge

Engineering University Faculty

This activity is a wonderful opportunity for students to combine their imaginative abilities with scientific and engineering principles to grow in multiple aspects. Problem-solving and team building/development will be critical skills in their future, regardless of their career path.


Regional Judge

Science Education College Professor

This program is an amazing way to create group hands-on experiences that is learning-focused. Students of all ages and levels can compete, and are guaranteed to walk away with increased self-efficacy, understanding of the engineering process, and a sense of accomplishment. The rubrics for students and judges’ are extremely easy to follow with enough instruction to standardize submissions but enough variability to allow for great differentiation, in process and thought.