Why Organize a Regional Contest?

Organizing a Regional Contest inspires interest in engineering and STEM at a local level, providing students an opportunity to engage hands-on in engineering! Regional Contests are supported by the Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence through advisory, planning, training, and one-on-one support.

Check out the Program Impact and Testimonials for more reasons to organize a contest!


Regional Contest Organizers are responsible for organizing their local event, including recruiting schools/teams and judges. The Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence will provide support and guidance along the way to ensure a successful and positive experience for all.

Regional Contest sites from any state (or country) are welcome to join us as we work to reduce barriers to access high-quality, engaging engineering-related experiences for youth from all backgrounds and communities. Contact the Engineering Center today!


The Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence will work one-on-one with Regional Contest sites as they plan and organize their contest. Regional Contest Organizers will have FREE access to:

  • Contest Tabulation System
  • Score Sheets
  • Contest Handbook
  • Judge Training Module
  • Promotional Flyer
  • T-shirt Designs
  • Participation and Award Certificate Templates
  • Logos
  • Program Evaluation Results
  • Advanced Components Team Resources
  • One-on-one Support from the Engineering Center

Direct inquiries to:

Frequently Asked Questions

When do the contests take place?

The Regional Contests take place in January – March with the Championship taking place on the fourth Friday in April.

How long has this program been around?

The Engineering Machine Design Contest started in 2018 with a single contest at Minnesota State University, Mankato. St. Angar High School in Iowa become the second contest site in 2019. In 2020, Anoka Technical College in Minnesota and CESA 10 in Wisconsin joined the program. The Virtual Open Regional Contest was piloted in 2021, which was the same year STEM Forward out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin became the fifth Regional Contest site. That was the same year the Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence organized the first Engineering Machine Design Championship.

How do schools implement this program?

Teams are generally formed within an existing class. For example, a Physics Instructor or a Career and Technical Educator Instructor will incorporate the machine build into their existing course. Alternatively, some teams are formed as extracurricular activities. Additionally, teams are not required to be school-based. Individuals from different schools or areas can form a team.

How much time does it take for a team to build their machine?

The time it takes to build a machine depends a lot on the time available to the team. Some teams will begin brainstorming their design in September, while other teams may not start working on their machine until a month before their Regional Contest.

Is there a charge to be a Regional Contest?

No! There is no charge to be a Regional Contest. In line with the goal to provide a low-cost or affordable learning experience that is accessible to students from underserved or rural communities, the Minnesota State Engineering Center of Excellence provides this program to Regional Contest sites at no cost!

How much time does it take to organize a Regional Contest?

Generally, a Contest Organizer will spend a couple of hours a month on marketing, recruiting teams, and logistics leading up to their event. The five weeks immediately prior to their event will require an increasing amount of time ranging from approximately two to eight hours a week. Tasks leading up to the event include recruiting judges, communicating with teams and judges, managing registrations, ordering promotional material and awards, organizing contest layout and schedule, and other event management logistics.

How much space is needed for a Regional Contest?

The total space needed depends on the number of teams anticipated. A Regional Contest can limit the number of teams allowed to register. Generally, the contest floor needs to allow an 8’X8′ area for each team with walkways between team areas. Additionally, there should be space or a separate room for check-in, orientation, lunch/food (if offered), and the awards ceremony, as well as a room for judges to convene for orientation, finalizing score sheets, and scoring the team journals. Some Contest Organizers also prefer to have a space or room of their own to organize materials or convene in private, if needed.

How many people does it take to run a Regional Contest?

Generally, one or two people can manage the tasks of the Contest Organizer, taking care of the planning leading up to the event. On the day of the event, it is recommended to have three to five judges per every eight teams. It may also be helpful to have three or four other people available to be in charge of team check-in, judge liaison, MC’ing the event, and fill in as needed.

When should the Regional Contest be scheduled?

The only requirement is that all Regional Contests must take place in February or March. Most Regional Contests are scheduled on a Friday, however, contests can be scheduled for any day of the week that works best for that location and target audience.

How many teams participate in a Regional Contest?

This varies by location, how many years the contest has been offered at that location, and local recruitment efforts. In year one, a Regional Contest will generally draw in around 5 to 10 teams. Once established, generally, 20 or more teams will participate each year. On average there are 6-7 students per team with a range of 3 to 12 students per team.

How much should the registration fee be?

Regional Contests are responsible for setting their own registration fee and can easily run at a breakeven point by setting their registration fee appropriately – there is no set registration fee. Keeping the program objective in mind of providing a low to no cost opportunity for students, around $100/team or $15/student has been found to be a reasonable registration fee that schools are able to pay (anything higher than that tends to be more challenging for teams). This amount will usually cover expenses for awards, t-shirts, and printing (certificates, programs, etc.). Any “extras”, or if space rental or wages need to be covered, might require additional funding or sponsorship. For example, if a Regional Contest wanted to provide lunch or refreshments for the teams and judges, that would be an “extra” expense.

When should the registration deadline be?

It is recommended to set the registration deadline to be one month prior to the event. This will allow time for ordering or finalizing contest details – such as if ordering t-shirts or determining the final number of judges needed. It also allows plenty of time to be able to organize judging assignments and such.

Does lunch need to be provided?

It is up to each contest if they provide lunch – it is just important to make sure teams are aware of what is and isn’t included in their registration fee. If teams will need to plan to purchase or bring their own lunch, they will need to be made aware of that.

How are registrations handled?

It is up to each Regional Contest to determine how they will collect the registration and registration fee – it really depends on what structures the organization has in place for this type of thing. For example, colleges or universities generally have access to a registration system that integrates the registration form and payment collection. Compare that other types of sites that choose to do the registration via email and have payment mailed or brought the day of the contest. We can share an example registration form if that is helpful and/or consult with the person who will be putting that together for you.

Do most of the regional sites get their teams through your marketing campaign or through direct outreach to area schools?

Honestly, a combination of both. Some schools/teachers are more receptive to a message that is coming from the local contest organizer, versus from us – which is why we prefer combined efforts on recruitment. It is helpful if Regional Contest Organizers forward our email campaigns to any of their contacts and include a message that relays how excited they are to be a Regional Contest site this year, etc. The more sources a school/teacher hears about the program from, the more interested they become. We will definitely work with you on marketing, but the recruitment efforts need to be a combined approach to be effective.