Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge Frequently Asked Questions


How has the Challenge changed this year, as compared to previous years?

The major changes to the 2014-2015 Conrad Challenge include:

  • The addition of a post-secondary/military academic level
  • A new Giant Leap to Mars add-on category
  • A small team registration fee
  • Reduced travel stipends to attend the Innovation Summit.

These changes allow us to expand the number of finalist teams that will be invited to the Innovation Summit.
The Conrad Challenge relies on individual and corporate sponsorships to defray the majority of the event costs.

What are the team age/academic requirements?

Secondary: Age 13 – 17

  • All members must be actively enrolled in a secondary academic grade
  • Team members must be 13 years old but not yet 18 years old by April 1, 2015

Post-secondary/Military:  Age 17 – 25

  • Post-secondary:  All members must be actively enrolled in college, university, trade or technical school or be active military or military veterans
  • Team members must be 17 years old but not yet 26 by April 1, 2015

Can teams include members from both academic levels?

Yes. Teams may have members from both academic age levels, but if any member qualifies for post-secondary the team must compete at the post-secondary level. 

Can a team have more than five participants?

No. A team can have 2-5 students.   

Does every team need a coach?

Yes. All teams must have one coach (adult supervisor) 18 years of age or older. Post-secondary/military teams may have a team member serve as the coach provided that team member meets the coach age requirement.

Can a coach supervise more than one team?

Yes. A coach can supervise as many teams as he/she would like in any of the categories/academic levels.

Can a team name also double as a team’s product name?

Yes, although it is not recommended.  We recommend teams create a separate business name from their product name. (For example: Team Name would be Apple and the product name would be iPhone).

If a team has participated in a previous Conrad Challenge, can that same team participate again?

Yes. Teams can compete again with a new product. Additionally, if a team entered a product or innovation in a previous Conrad Challenge, yet they did not make the finals, they can reenter the Challenge with the same concept if they have made significant advancements or modifications to their product or innovation.

What is the Investor Pitch?

The Investor Pitch is the first communication outreach tool for an innovative idea to help raise interest, support and funding. The content of the pitch, along with team presentation, allows potential investors to determine their level of interest in learning more about a team’s product or innovation. Requirements of the Conrad Challenge Investor Pitch include answering five to six questions (depending on the Challenge category) with concise 100-word answers and a short video about the team’s product or innovation.

Do teammates have to be from the same school or geographic location?

No. Teammates do not even have to be in the same state or country. Through the Conrad Challenge Online Community and other online communication resources, teams are not limited by geography. Teams come from many different locations around the globe.

Is there a registration fee?

Yes. The Conrad Foundation is a 501c3 education foundation that operates off of individual donations, corporate sponsorships and team fees. The registration fee assists in offsetting the cost of the program.   

  • Team Registration for one of the four main categories: $95 for the first team.
    Additional teams from the same organization/institution can register for a reduced rate of $75/team.
  • The Giant Leap to Mars Add-on: $10/team.  

Is there financial assistance available to teams who want to participate but cannot pay the registration fee?

Yes. We understand the importance of the Conrad Challenge experience for all qualified teams regardless of their economic status. Financial assistance to cover registration fees will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact if you need to discuss registration fee assistance. 

Can a team only compete in the Giant Leap to Mars category?

No. You must register and enter an abstract submission in one of the four main categories to be eligible to co-enter Giant Leap to Mars.

Can a team compete in more than one category?

Yes. Teams are welcome to compete in more than one category.Each category requires a separate registration fee. Teams participating in more than one category are encouraged to create a new Team Name for each category submission.

Is there a registration fee to participate in a Mini Challenge?

No. The Mini Challenges are free to all Conrad Challenge Online Community members. There is no fee to create a personal profile in our Online Community. Additionally, teams participating in the first two Mini Challenges will receive a 20% discount on team registration for the 2014-2015 Conrad Challenge. 

Do all team members need to create a personal profile in the Conrad Challenge Online Community? Is there a fee to create an Online Community personal profile?

Yes. All team members (including the team coach) must have a personal profile on the Conrad Challenge Online Community. There is no fee to create a profile in the Online Community.

Do teams need to make a prototype of their product?

Not in the first two phases of the Conrad Challenge. Finalist teams who are invited to the Innovation Summit are required to create a prototype or present the results of proof-of-concept testing.

If a team is invited to the Innovation Summit, who pays for the team to attend?

All teams that advance to the Innovation Summit finals will be responsible for their travel and subsidized room and meal costs. The 2015 Innovation Summit will be held in Central Florida at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. We anticipate 3 days of hotel and meals to cost approximately $600 per person. Airfare is not included in this estimate.

We encourage finalist teams to raise the necessary capital which enhances the entrepreneurial aspect of the Conrad Challenge. If a team advances to the semi-final round they will be required to include their fundraising plan as a section in their business plan as well as their marketing plan.

Will Innovation Summit travel grants available to applicable teams?

Yes. We understand the importance of the Innovation Summit experience to our finalist teams. Travel grants will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact if you are selected as a finalist team and need to discuss a travel grant.     

Semifinals Round - Innovation Portal FAQ

My how do I reset my password?

If a user does enter an incorrect password they are taken to the forgot password page on which exists a message for both users new to the portal,  and those who used the portal several years ago requesting them to update their passwords.

We have however found that the filters in some school systems block any automated email including those form us (  In these cases teachers and administrators only need to request that be “whitelisted” with the IT administrators of those systems.

Passwords can be changed in the profile menu ( the little person icon on the right vertical navigation bar once logged in) . Click the “down” arrow next to the user’s name and then click the EDIT icon ( a pencil and paper).  From this point the user needs to enter the current password and then what they want the new password to be.  Once the submit button is pushed the new password is set (no emails will be sent).

Is there anything in particular required on the Portfolio cover?

The cover is a place for students to submit  picture of the team , and the school they are from.  Additionally it teams can offer any background about the project or the reason the group chose the project they did.  There are no requirements or components that are judged regarding the cover page.

 What would be a design requirement that would be objective, measurable, with pass/fail values in Element C?

 After interviewing people or gathering research from organizations or sources with firsthand knowledge of or experience with the problem ( stakeholders) and why current attempts to solve the problem are not working or working well enough a list (design requirements)  of what a solution for the problem should be able to do and how well it should be able to do each item on the list (measurable) is developed by the team.  Some items are more critical to the design than others from the perspective of the stakeholders.  These design requirements should be listed first with an explanation of why the stakeholders thought they were most important. 

 A side note:  Most of the university faculty we have worked with agree that Elements A, B and  C dictate how well the rest of the project is likely to pan out.  Without a good problem statement, good research about the problem and without solid well researched and measurable design requirements the whole project is in danger of not having any direction and being just the collective opinion of the team about the problem at hand.

For element C, who are the primary stakeholders the rubric is referring to?

People, organizations or groups with firsthand knowledge of  or experience with the problem.  If a team is designing a better wheel chair for hospital use, then patients, nurses, doctors, orderlies, family care givers, equipment safety inspectors, and even the insurance agencies that may charge more or less based upon what the design does are all “stakeholders” .  There is a powerful phrase that if use throughout a project will help greatly.  That phrase is,  “ According to…..”  if a team can finish that phrase each time they make a statement about their idea or device and the sources are validated, then it is likely they will meet many of the requirements of the rubric. “ According to the following three patients the current wheel chair caused pain when …..”

For element E, which types of experts would be qualified for reviewing the design?

An expert throughout the project is anyone who, again,  has some qualification related to the problems at hand. If a team is presenting a more efficient way to change a muffler on a car with the idea of saving the muffler shop and customers money and time then the mechanic who installs mufflers is the most qualified “expert”  not a mechanical engineer form a local university.  If the team is presenting some calculations that they did to predict the terminal velocity and impact force of a new laptop case then the schools Physics and math teachers verifying their calculations would be “experts”.  The term “expert”  should be driven by the problem at hand.  Not by the idea that everyone the team talks with must be a team of PhDs from related fields to the problem.

Would the coach be qualified, or does it have to be someone specializing in that respective field?

“Why is this person qualified to comment on this statement or portion of our project?”  should be a guiding question when looking for experts to comment or evaluate the work and statements you offer in the portfolio.  This can apply to the coach and many of the teachers in the school when it can be justified by their professional or personal experiences.