University of Vermont

Aiken Maker Faire and Engineering Challenge

Aiken Engineering Challenge

Saturday, December 2, 2017 at Davis Center, UVM

The Aiken Engineering Challenge is a program supported by the University of Vermont George D. Aiken Lectures that aims to involve young Vermonters in engineering and technology, a topic that long interested Senator Aiken. Aiken Engineering Challenge is a program of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) at UVM.

Students will build a device to meet an engineering challenge, and compete with their device at an event held at UVM. The Aiken Engineering Challenge will be held in conjunction with a "Maker Faire" where youth, teachers, and parents will exhibit their creations during the Aiken Challenge, all for a great day of design and innovation.

Aiken Engineering Challenge is open to all high schools and middle schools in Vermont and nearby areas of New Hampshire and New York. Groups such as 4-H, Boy/Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, and ad-hoc groups are also encouraged to participate. There is no cost to enter, but you must register as a team.

This challenge is an achievable one and can be solved using ordinary hand tools, readily available materials, robotic components that most schools already have, and for a reasonable cost. But there is real engineering involved. The students will need to analyze the problem, consider a variety of solutions, build a trial solution, test it, make improvements, and build a final design that is robust and reliable. The challenge is structured so that almost any team can achieve some success, but it is not easy to win. This year it will be very important to finish your device in time to practice!

Students get an experience with hands-on learning and engineering thought, both necessary to solve any number of contemporary real world challenges in energy, agriculture, the environment, and communication.

The 2017 Challenge

This year we are taking on a classic challenge in a new way, launching ping pong balls into targets! The targets will be randomly selected, from a set of 5 "easy" targets and 4 "hard" targets. This selection will occur 5 minutes prior to teams setting up on a field and will vary in both difficulty and strategy required to score. Students will then be able to decide on their game plan, including the desired distance for each of these targets. Go too far and risk missing too many targets; go too short and risk each successful shot not being worth enough points.

Nine different types of Targets exist, five "easy" and four "hard;' the Judges randomly select three "easy" and one "hard" Target and provide them to the team . The team sets up the Targets, each within one of three Zones on the Playing Field.

Teams build a Launcher which can propel Game Pieces (balls) into the Targets.

Each team receives 50 balls. The Match commences at a signal from the judges and continues until all 50 balls have been fired, or five minutes, whichever is less.

Points are given for the number of balls in each Target multiplied by a distance factor depending on which Zone the Target is located. The "hard" Targets also earn a bonus score. Teams also earn a bonus depending on how well balanced the scored balls are between all Targets.


Teams consist of 2 to 6 students. Each team must have an adult coach, who need not be a teacher. A school or group may enter more than one team.


A number of prizes will be awarded, including prizes for the best performance and for the best engineering presentation. Prize awards will be made by several prominent local engineering companies that support the Aiken Engineering Challenge.

Official Rules

The official rules for this year's challenge can be found here.


The form for registering your team can be found here. The registration deadline is November 1, about a month before the event. We encourage teams to register early, even if you don't yet have a team name or know all the participants. Registration will be limited to 40 teams this year.

Question and Answer System

You may post a question about the rules or anything else to Questions posted and the answers to them can be found here. "Aiken Engineering Challenge" was once named "TASC Challenge"

Last modified February 01 2018 04:21 PM