Faculty Advisor Info
Welcome to the Cornell Cup USA, presented by Intel. If you haven’t done so already, please read the general About page first to learn about the background and educational motivation behind this competition. Then read the sections below for additional insights.
The Application and Final Report Structure
Creating an innovative end product is an exciting central part of any project. However, in developing their product, students rarely give serious attention to a professional design process. This competition and application process is designed to provide a framework that empowers students to learn that a formal design process is a crucial and even valuable part of creating the product they envision.
We encourage you to use the excitement of the Cornell Cup USA, presented by Intel, competition and the potential to have a trip to Walt Disney World as incentive to encourage your students to take these steps that aim to enhance their project and their educational experience. Ultimately, as the competition rules say that the application, reports, and presentations are important to do, and the competition itself has been said to be important by Intel, Cornell, and many other leading industry sponsors and prestigious universities, then maybe, just maybe your students will believe you that they are important and there is value to doing them, even if the only value they initially see is that it will help them to be accepted and do well in the competition.
Even if they are not selected to participate in the final competition, we highly encourage you to continue the competition process the competition offers. Additionally there is a possibility that you may be contacted by a sponsor who may want to learn more about your project and follow its progress independent of the competition. Such opportunities are then up to you to follow through on, but if a sponsor contacts you we urge you to consider it seriously. Regardless of how your team fares in the competition, should your team make a significant advancement we would love to hear about it and there is the potential to feature that work as part of next year’s competition.
Financial Support and Resources
Significant support is made available to all teams who apply and are accepted to the final round of competition. Approximately 20 teams will be accepted to the final round at Walt Disney World and a complete list of the generous resources provided can be found on the About for Students page. Even teams that complete an application form are given some support and all potential teams are given access to the resources page that offers educational examples and guides on to aid them in their application and design process while also taking some of the stress off of advisor faculty members to provide similar resources.
We hope to be able to increase the number of teams accepted and the resources supplied to them every year as well. However, the estimated cost to the competition organizing committee to support a single accepted team is quite significant. If you are aware of any new potential sponsors whose resources would further enhance the competition please contact us as we are always looking for new ways to grow the competition.
However every year there is no guarantee, other than performing well in last year’s competition, that any team will be accepted any year, including any team from Cornell. The only advantage offered to any team’s application is that the advisors of the teams that win a grand prize or earn a first-place recognition one year will be automatically given a significant bonus score to their application next year to help you continue to do well. This honor will only be given to about the top 15-20% of the previous year’s entries. So every year 80-85% of the competition team slots are wide open for any team to make even their first debut at the competition.
If your team is selected, as the advisor, all of the equipment and funding will be transferred to you as a team donation, not as a grant. You will be responsible for receiving and management of the equipment and funds towards the support of the project team as you see fit, which for example may include both additional equipment and travel purchases.
Incorporating a Competition Team as Part of Curriculum
Although not required, the project submission process is designed to fit within the general framework of many one year (two-semester) student projects or credited independent research projects. Competition teams should consist of 3-5 undergraduate or masters level students in engineering, science, or computer science students, at least one faculty advisor from your university (up to three), and optionally at least one additional faculty member who will be willing to serve on a design review board for your team*. Interdisciplinary teams are highly welcomed.
The completed application can be also be treated as a midterm exam for the first semester, the suggested formal review presentations could be treated as part of a final exam for the end of the first semester and prelims in the second semester, and the final report could be treated as part of a final exam and should (or should be easily modified) to be able to fulfill any capstone project design or Masters of Engineering final report requirements. The competition’s final two-day event was also placed at a weekend found to be just before most colleges’ final exam period but during one of the less expensive travel periods at the end of the spring semester.
Many of the competition’s required elements also offer an opportunity to incorporate an emphasis on “professional design” within your project courses/experiences. This includes formal elements of planning, team management, risk analysis, robustness & reliability, and in general designing a product that specifically meets a well defined challenge’s needs. This aims to move students beyond getting a prototype strung together to work for just the competition demonstration. It’s about recognizing and learning to master the entire design process beyond the well-contrived homework assignments or lab exercises that students are accustomed to and beyond even limited scope course projects that typically focus on specific curricula topics.
The desire to include these elements within this competition come strongly from industry who complain of direction-seeking students learning these skills slowly through trial by fire means. Part of the reason behind this complaint is that these elements were often perceived by students as being outside of their academic training and hence less important. We encourage you to utilize this competition to expose students to these career essential skills and ultimately develop better graduates from your own program. If your program already re-enforces these important design elements, we highly encourage you to still compete in the competition and show to all of the companies and competitors just how well your students can do.
Your Commitment as an Advisor & Student Ethics Development
As an advisor, the competition submission process requires that you hold at least two major reviews throughout the academic year, that you are in attendance at the final event at Walt Disney World, and that you will be responsible for receiving and managing any resources awarded to your team. It is also assumed that you will review their submitted written materials as well as their final presentation and final competition expo display. You may also co-advise the team, but only one advisor is required to attend the final event at Walt Disney World. Additionally, you are welcome to invite other faculty to aid in the reviews as well. These faculty reviewers* are also invited to the event at Walt Disney World and may attend the conference events for a fee. (More information and registration due dates will be posted on the website).
At each major review, you and your fellow faculty reviewers are required to complete a feedback review rubric. These reviews will be collected as part of the students’ final report. You will also be asked to complete a final review of your students’ performance via the final feedback review rubric. Your assessment of their performance will not be considered significantly in the scoring of your team’s entry. However the assessment helps provides us with a means of feedback to see if there are common places that many teams are having issues and to see if there are ways we could continue to help teams address these issues in the future. The only influence your reviews will have is that your team will receive a point for its completion and submission (i.e., a check mark that it was completed) but we will look for significant discrepancies between their evaluation of their work and your evaluation of their work. Said simply, we are looking for ethical honesty in the team’s claims for their project and their evaluation of themselves. A team that did made a mistake, said they made a mistake, and then showed how they addressed it, will do better than a team that made the same mistake and tried to cover it up. We look to you as their advisor to help reinforce their ethical development.
Although various tools and guides are provided to the student teams on even how to make best use of the application in their design process, they are by no means a substitute for your feedback and involvement. We hope that the guides will help reduce the load on you and improve the quality of their submissions. However, every student team will have more trouble with one particular area than another and we know the students will appreciate your guidance. For many students the timeline will be the most different, challenging, and seemingly time consuming part of the experience, but we ask that you help re-enforce the value that can be found in tools like these. Furthermore, if the students can be committed to using tools like the required timeline, we believe this will make your team much easier to manage and your students’ projects that much stronger in the long run.
We greatly thank you for your participation in the Cornell Cup USA, presented by Intel, Innovative Embedded Design Competition and we hope that you will find it to be as rewarding and exciting an experience as your students will.
*These optional review board faculty may sign up to agree to be responsible for reviewing both your application and final project as well as attending all major design reviews and filling out associated feedback summary sheet throughout the school year. For their efforts, they will receive invitation to the Cornell Cup USA, presented by Intel, Competition Event at Walt Disney World at a special rate.