The Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) is an annual high school competition run by a public-private partnership with the goal of sustainably increasing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce. The partners are focused on working within the context of the American educational system to transform STEM education in the United States by providing professional science and engineering and learning resources to students and teachers.
The RWDC began in 2008 through a partnership between industry, government, academia, and non-profit. The partners were committed to bringing a program to schools that brought professional engineering resources into the classroom and could scale to every school in the United States. The partners brought together $263 million in resources and began working with governors to build an infrastructure of states to scale across the United States. The first year, ten states participated. And we have added states every year.
Every teacher that participates in the RWDC gets $1 million in professional engineering software along with training, curriculum materials, and access to mentors. Teams of 3-7 high school students use these resources to solve an engineering challenge that is currently faced by industry.
Students first compete in a state level Governor’s Cup. The team with the best design is invited to Washington, DC to compete in the national finals.
The Challenges have all been focused on the aerospace industry so far, but as the RWDC grows, we will add other content areas as well. We are constantly looking for new partner organizations, states, and school teams to participate.
- Dr. Ralph K. Coppola, Director and program founder of Real World Design Challenge
- Jeffrey Coppola, Program Manager Real World Design Challenge
- Mr. James Brough, National Education Program Manager Federal Aviation Administration
- Mr. Ray Girardo, Vice President Engineering Cessna Aircraft Company
- Mr. Charles Huettner, Executive Director Aerospace States Association
- Dr. Joyce Malyn-Smith, Director Strategic Initiatives, Workforce and Human Development Education Development Center
Partners are organizations that contribute resources to make the Challenge free for teachers and students. They represent government, industry, and education and have contributed more than $750,000,000 to date. Learn more about the partners and their contributions here.
Governors sponsor the program in their states. To learn if your governor is participating check out your state’s page here.
If you have a team interested in participating, sign up here.
If you are a company, non-profit, or state interested in participating please contact the project Director:
Dr. Ralph K. Coppola