Innovation Portal

2019 PLTW Engineering Design Competition


Founding partner Chevron

An engineering design competition open to PLTW High School students in grades 9 to 11.


PLTW, Chevron, and John Deere invite high school students in grades 9 -11 to participate in the 2019 PLTW Engineering Design Competition. The competition gives students the opportunity to address a problem relating to portable, renewable, and affordable energy, and is designed to recognize and reward outstanding student projects and highlight the importance of engineering design that solves real-world problems. Students will build portfolios and then submit them on the Innovation Portal, and a panel of judges will then review the portfolios. The top 5 teams will be invited to virtually present their portfolios to a panel of judges, which will determine the winning team.  PLTW will award the top five teams prizes and recognize them for their achievements.

2019 Engineering Competition:

Providing Portable, Renewable, and Affordable Energy of Tomorrow

Traditional energy sources such as oil, natural gas, and coal have been plentiful and affordable, whereas renewable energy sources have potential but currently struggle to be economically viable and portable.

Take, for instance, energy that powers motor vehicles. Petroleum products like gasoline and diesel have high potential chemical energy. This makes energy easily transportable and storable, which allows vehicles to travel for long distances between refueling. Electric cars have recently closed the gap but still require much heavier solutions for storing energy, like batteries.

Recent technological advances, however, are making it possible for many renewable sources of energy to become increasingly competitive. Your challenge is to identify and address a problem that will make renewable energy more economically viable or portable.

Resources and Guiding Question:

Solar Energy
The sun creates a massive amount of energy but only a tiny percentage hits the earth in the form of solar energy. Even this small fraction of solar energy far outweighs the energy demands worldwide – if it could just be harnessed efficiently. Current photovoltaic power cells are inefficient in converting solar energy to electrical energy and are extremely costly to produce. Solar energy is also difficult to store and deliver where it’s needed. To learn more about solar energy, please visit the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges website.

Energy From Fusion
Current nuclear reactors use the process of fission to split apart the nuclei of large atoms – a process that releases energy. Fusion is similar, but instead of splitting nuclei, it merges the nuclei of two smaller atoms into one larger atom. This process releases much more energy and poses no risk to a runaway reaction that fission presents. Although there are significant challenges to overcome to make fusion energy reactions feasible, it does promise an almost unlimited supply of energy. To learn more about energy from fusion, please visit the NAE Grand Challenges website.

Guiding Question
What are you learning in your PLTW course(s) that could contribute to making energy portable, renewable, and affordable for your tomorrow?

General Restrictions

Who can participate?

The 2019 PLTW Engineering Design Competition is open to high school PLTW students, grades 9-11. Teams must consist of 2-4 students. Single student entries will not be considered.

Thanks to Chevron there will not be a registration or competition entry fee.

Why participate?
Participating in the competition will enable students to apply what they’ve learned in their PLTW classrooms to solve real-world challenges and achieve recognition for their work in and out of the classroom. PLTW will award the top five teams with prizes. All participating teams and/or individuals will receive a letter of recognition for submitting their engineering design project to this competition, upon request. All projects will remain the intellectual property of the individual/teams; however, the administrator requires permission to develop and distribute the story behind the top five submissions.

Awards for the top five entries are as follows:

First place:

  • -$5,000 grant for your school's PLTW program
  • -Invitation to participate and present at a 2019-20 PLTW Summit
  • -Wireless speakers valued around $250 per team member
    -John Deere branded items ($70 value): Cooler, hat, and/or Pop-Socket
  • -PLTW banner for the school
  • -Certificate of Commendation

Second place:

  • -$2,500 grant for your school's PLTW program
  • -Wireless speakers valued around $175 per team member
    -John Deere branded items ($55 value): Deluxe tote, hat, and/or Pop-Socket
  • -PLTW banner for the school
  • -Certificate of Commendation

Third place:

  • -$1,000 grant for your school's PLTW program
  • -Wireless speakers valued around $125 per team member
    -John Deere branded items ($50 value): Sweatshirt, hat, and/or Pop-Socket
  • -PLTW banner for the school
  • -Certificate of Commendation

Fourth Place:

  • -$750 grant for your schools PLTW program
  • -Wireless Speakers valued around $75 per team member
    -John Deere branded items ($40 value): Insulated beverage dispenser, hat, and/or Pop-Socket
  • -PLTW banner for the school
  • -Certificate of Commendation

Fifth Place:

  • -$500 grant for your schools PLTW program
  • -Wireless Speakers valued around $50 per team member
    ​​​​​​​-John Deere branded items ($30 value): Water cup, hat, and/or Pop-Socket
  • -PLTW banner for the school
  • -Certificate of Commendation


  • -August 20, 2018: Project registration opens on the Innovation Portal
  • -March 18, 2019: Portfolio Submissions opens
  • -April 19, 2019: Portfolio registration closes on the Innovation Portal
  • -April 19, 2019: Deadline to submit portfolios
  • -May 10, 2019: Top 5 portfolios announced
  • -Week of May 20, 2019: Top 5 schools virtually present their portfolios to a panel of judges

How to participate in the PLTW Engineering Design Competition

Sign up for an account:  All team members should sign up for Innovation Portal accounts at Please use an email account that you check regularly.

Watch online tutorials.

Video ONE -  GETTING STARTED using the Innovation Portal - Learn how to create your own account, create a portfolio, and connect a portfolio to partners, teachers, and mentors.

Video TWO - BUILDING PORTFOLIO PAGES – Learn how to add text; upload and insert graphics, documents, and other files; insert a video onto a page; and use the rubric to aim at the highest scores. (You will be effectively building web pages similar to working in Publisher, so we highly recommend viewing the video.)

Register for the competition. All team members should register for the competition by clicking the “REGISTER” button on this page once they are logged into their new account. (Registration is currently open.)

Submit your portfolio:  The submission button will appear on this page and activate March 18, 2019. Once your portfolio is ready, click on the submission button to enter your portfolio into the competition. (Note: Prior to submission, please change the status of all team members to “owner” so that any member is able to submit on behalf of the team.)

Communication about the status of your entry, the competition, and competition results will be reported back to you via the email address associated with your Innovation Portal account that you register with.

2019 Engineering Design Competition Partners:

More about Chevron (Founding Sponsor):

Working with our partners, we take a comprehensive approach to investments in education by getting students excited about STEM and encouraging them to pursue STEM courses and, ultimately, STEM careers. We focus on improving instruction in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and on helping to provide the career and technical training that can lead to well-paying jobs. To learn more visit:

More about John Deere:

Since 2012, John Deere has partnered with PLTW to help inspire the next generation of innovators. John Deere supports PLTW Launch and PLTW Gateway programs in communities across the U.S. where the company’s employees live and work. To learn more visit:

Use of the Innovation Portal is completely free.

Opportunity Terms & Conditions

Terms and Conditions.

Please Note: All projects submitted to this competition will remain the intellectual property of the individual or team; however by entering the competition the individual/team understands and gives the organizers of this competition permission to develop and distribute the story about the projects, the students and their schools in order to promote the impact of competition and highlight the value of the project work. Effort will be taken to describe the project in general and without offering any details related to intellectual property concerns.

PLTW Terms & Conditions

I understand that by submitting this work to an opportunity or competition hosted on the Innovation Portal that the submitted copy of work will be in the control of the hosting organization and is subject to the terms and conditions that organization has posted for entry requirements and conditions.