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Glenn Engineering Design Challenges

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. The agency has a diverse workforce of just under 18,000 civil servants, and works with many more U.S. contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.


Engineering design challenges are an integral part of educational content where students have the opportunity to work on real-world challenges in a collaborative, team-based environment, applying the lessons learned to the technical problems of the workplace.  Glenn Engineering Design Challenges (EDCs) will connect students, at both in-school and out-of-school settings, with the unique challenges faced by NASA scientists and engineers as they design the next generation of aeronautic and space vehicles, habitats, and technology.


Glenn Engineering Design Challenges seek to accomplish the following goals:

  • To partner with youth serving organizations with established informal learning environments and networks of interested participants
  • To support participating organizations in connecting with existing making spaces in their communities to provide participants with experience using innovative making technologies
  • To develop easily accessible STEM activities for underserved/underrepresented youth related to current NASA missions


Each Engineering Design Challenge consists of:

  • A main challenge problem that the scientists and researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center are currently studying.
  • Supporting science investigations that go deeper into the content and align directly with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
  • Live virtual connections to NASA Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) where participants can discuss their challenge solutions and the SMEs’ work at NASA.
  • Opportunities for student teams to submit their solutions to the challenge problem to the NASA Glenn Office of STEM Engagement in the form of a slide presentation or video presentation.
  • Virtual and in-person professional development for facilitators to learn how to conduct the challenges in their own settings.


Glenn Engineering Design Challenges have been designed for students in the middle grades and aligned to Next Generation Science Standards from Grades 6-8. Facilitators can modify challenges to fit the needs of their students or learning environment. These challenges are open for anyone to use at any time, however the NASA Glenn Office of STEM engagement occasionally offers solicitations to provide funding for facilitating a selected challenge during a specific window of time such as a summer or a school year.

Awardees of previous solicitations, please Submit your Student Solutions HERE:

Featured Content

  • Keep it Cool – Design, test, and improve systems to maintain cold temperatures within a simulated cryogenic propellant tank.
  • Spacecraft Safety – Design and build a model of a spacecraft that can safely transport two astronauts on a mission to the Moon, Mars, or other destinations in space.
  • Powered and Pumped Up – Design and build a lightweight solar-powered pumping system that can move water as quickly as possible between two storage tanks.
  • Let It Glide – Design and improve a glider made out of a shoebox that demonstrates the best glide properties when thrown.
  • Gaining Traction on Mars – Design a set of wheels for a Martian rover that performs best on a simulated extraterrestrial soil bed.

Contact Information

Gerald Voltz
Education Program Specialist
(216) 433-8817

Glenn Research Center – Office of STEM Engagement

Phone: (216) 433-6656

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