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Check Out These 3D Design Problem-Solvers

by Susan Meyer
3D design

You can’t change the weather, but you can change the world. And that’s exactly what these students are doing. This year, the challenge posed by TCEA’s 3D Design Contest was how to design a 3D solution to a real-world problem associated with the weather.

The goal of the contest is to let students be creators and so the students are the ones in charge of defining a problem and using the engineering design process to come up with a workable solution. From a more efficient wind turbine to grass stakes to prevent erosion following hurricanes, these students delivered with creativity and well-researched follow through.

This year the contest had two categories: Intermediate (Grades 6-8) and Advanced (Grades 9-12). In addition to creating the actual product design, the students also kept a detailed log of their engineering process. They also created a marketing campaign to showcase their product’s value. Check out the top three winners in each category below and get to know their incredible ideas.

Intermediate Winners

First Place: Design Thinkers, Walkin’ Weather

The winning team from Lewisville ISD considered how the weather can inconvenience individuals who use a walker to get around. This makes it hard for them to hold an umbrella. The Design Thinkers were on the case! They created an umbrella holder that attaches to a walker, leaving those with mobility issues comfortable and dry.

Design mockup of the Walkin’ Weather


Second Place: Roughneck Tech Club, Flood Protector

Flooding, like what occurred in the Houston area after Hurricane Harvey, can cause great devastation and the destruction of property. To help protect people’s homes and businesses from a sudden deluge, the team from White Oak ISD designed underground trenches and grates that could help drain water throughout a city.

Third Place: Rattler 3D Design Team, The Floating Mister

The team from Clint ISD also had hurricanes on the brain. However, instead of preventing the damage caused by a storm, they wanted to stop the storm in its tracks. After researching to learn that hurricanes can only continue to gather strength over waters that are 79 degrees or warmer, they designed a device that would fly over the water, sprinkling water droplets to cool the surface directly in the path of the storm.

Advanced Winners

First Place: Pecos Engineering, EiW 360 Turbine

For their world-changing innovation, the team from Pecos Barstow Toyah ISD considered how the weather can help

2018 3D Design contest winner

One design iteration of the wind turbine from the 2018 3D Design Contest Advanced winner

us. West Texas is a great location for potential wind energy. However, current wind turbines don’t capture it as efficiently as they could. Their design “integrates the gravitation water vortex power plant design with a basic Persian windmill design” for peak performance and less of this valuable alternative energy wasted.

Second Place: Brazoswood Engineering, Grass Guardian

A prototype of the Grass Guardian

In yet another thoughtful response to considering how to limit the impact of large-scale storm systems, the team from Brazosport ISD designed a tool to replace plants drowned by flood waters and prevent erosion on river banks. They designed grass stakes from a material that is easy to 3D print, but also dissolves in water. The stakes can be used to plant seeds for erosion-resistant ground cover.


Third Place: West Texas Comanches 3D Modeling Team, Outdoor Fire-Detecting Sprinkler System

The team from Plemons-Stinnett-Phillips CISD focused on a problem facing much of Texas in the dry summer months: the spread of wildfires. If indoor sprinkler systems can detect fires and save properties, why couldn’t an outdoor sprinkler system do the same thing? Their 3D design uses pop-up sprinkler heads with fire-detecting technology to prevent wildfires from spreading to people’s properties, saving both homes and lives.

Congratulations to All the Teams!

At TCEA, we want to give a big congratulations to all of the teams and their sponsors who entered our second annual 3D Design Contest. We were blown away by the incredible ideas these students had for combating some pretty big problems.

Do you have a team of STEM problem-solvers ready to change the world? Find out more about the 3D Design Contest and how you can enter a team next year here.


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