Students and Teachers Exposed to Engineering Design in Wearable Device Competition

Achievement date: 

Educators hosted a first Wearable Device Design Competition for middle and high school students in April 2016 at North Carolina State University. The competition was organized by the Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST), which is based at NCSU and funded by the NSF.


Through projects presented in the program, middle and high school teachers and students learn to apply the process of engineering design to solve real-world problems. Encouraging active engagement in and excitement about engineering and engineering design at a variety of grade levels is key to building a pipeline of students into STEM programs. 


A program-provided prompt to address a specific health issue encourages brainstorming and creativity in seeking a tech solution that may be relevant to the participants, their families, and their communities. Incorporating the engineering design process into secondary curriculum allows students to use project-based learning to develop a model or a prototype, allowing them to apply math and science in real-world engineering experiences. Throughout the program, teacher and student participants learn a variety of essential technical and professional skills while being exposed to the research and educational opportunities of the university.

For 2016, the program challenged participants to “Design a wearable device for a human, animal, or both, to address a ‘One Health’ related issue.” Students used Arduino, a simple computing platform, and a variety of sensors to build working prototypes of their designs. They also developed advertising campaigns to reinforce the practical reach of their concept, and posters demonstrating their understanding of the engineering design process. Nine middle school and eight high school teams, with a total of over 60 students, competed in this event. At least 25 teams were expected for the second annual challenge in April 2017.