The NOVA Fab Lab held an in-person awards ceremony on Friday, February 26th, to recognize the Fall 2022 Design Challenge winners. Winning students received their certificates and prizes, networked with judges and sponsors, and toured NOVA’s state-of-the-art Fab Lab after the event, where the challenge submissions were on display.
The Fab Lab holds the Design Challenge twice a year, so this ceremony was to honor students who participated in the Fall 2022 event. (The Spring 2023 challenge is soon to be announced). Of the two challenges each year, one is geared more towards design and the other is focused more on fabrication.
The Fall 2022 challenge was for middle school, high school, or college students to fabricate a replica of their favorite science fiction prop, which proved to be a popular topic. As scientists, artists, engineers, and inventors the Fab Lab staff believe the foundation of prop making, especially in science fiction requires a seamless blend of innovation, problem solving, creativity, and craft.
Students submitted their designs and design process online, then submissions were narrowed down to a final number of select projects. From there students fabricated their own props and brought them in to the Fab Lab, where winners were selected from a panel of industry judges.
There were 3 categories for award winners: College/University, High School, and Middle School. First place winners in each category received $250 plus a 3D-Printer and accessories. Second-place winners received $250, and third-place winners took home a $100 prize.
Middle School Winners:
1st Place: Max Choe, Kilmer Middle School.
Submission: “Drill to the Upside Down” from Stranger Things (3D-printed).
2nd Place: Christopher Jones, Robinson Secondary School.
Submission: Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber from Star Wars: A New Hope (3D-printed).
3rd Place: Henry Eckholdt, Saunders Middle School.
Submission: Imperial Star Destroyer from the original Star Wars trilogy (3D-printed).
High School Winners:
1st Place: Jason Armstrong, Home School.
Submission: The Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future (Fabricated from Wood, Acrylic, and PVC),
2nd Place: Mihai Ziu, Home School.
Submission: Iron Man Mark 42 Helmet from Iron Man 3 (3D-Printed).
3rd Place: Jack Register, Manassas Park High School.
Submission: Marty McFly’s Hoverboard from Back to the Future 2 (Mixed Media).
1st Place: Bruce Escalante, NOVA.
Submission: The Lament Configuration Box from Hellraiser (Fabricated from Wood).
2nd Place: Makayla Draper, NOVA
Submission: Luke and Yoda’s Dagobah Lamp from The Empire Strikes Back (3D-Printed, Acrylic).
3rd Place: Sunmeet Maheshwari, NOVA
Submission: Thor’s Hammer from Avengers: Endgame (3D-printed, Leather).
Alek Merkt, Stone Bridge High School
Stuti Aryal, Woodbridge Senior High School
Rian Doyle, Washington-Liberty High School
Christopher Robinson, NOVA
NOVA student and College division winner Bruce Escalante said “It was a really fun challenge, it helped me learn about myself and my abilities. It definitely helped me to be more problem-solving.”
Fellow NOVA student and second-place college division winner Makayla Draper reflected that the Design Challenge “allows you to think out-of-the-box and use techniques that you are getting from school. It’s a really good learning experience.”
Sunmeet Maheshwarim, another NOVA Design Challenge award winner, added “It’s one of the amazing competitions which gives you experience on the engineering side and also creativity.”
Design Thinking and creative solutions to common challenges are a prominent feature in STEM education and the technology workforce, making the Design Challenge a touchstone for talented young minds to generate ideas in an equitable way.
The NOVA Fab Lab’s mission is to decrease the growing skills gap in the digital fabrication arena by providing students a more holistic fabrication experience, including access to the most advanced processes, training in 3D Modeling and design, and a foundation in the principles of design thinking and creative problem solving.
“One of the Fab Lab missions is to empower students to think and fabricate in unison and help them unlock their potential to recognize and solve complex problems” said Richard Sewell, NOVA’s Fab Lab Coordinator.
Sponsors for the Design Challenge were BAE Systems, Micron, and Lockheed Martin.