NICEE 2018: Competition Rules

NICEE 2018 Competition Rules

These are the official rules of The STEMIE Coalition’s 2018 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo presented by United Technologies Corporation.


This is an invitation-only event.  Each STEMIE Coalition Affiliate partner is allocated a certain number of invitations to extend to the best members of their respective programs. A limited number invitations are also allocated for the top scoring inventors from STEMIE’s Independent Inventor Program. Inventors are carefully selected based upon criteria set by their state or affiliate programs. Original inventions that show promise in helping to create a more sustainable future will be given consideration, along with other criteria. Participants should check with their local affiliate programs for more details.


Inventors and entrepreneurs who have entered affiliate member competitions and/or STEMIE”s Independent Inventor Program and won an invitation from your affiliate member are eligible to take part in this competition.

Students in Grades K-2 will compete online. In order to be eligible to attend the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo, students must be in Grades 3-12 and be nominated by a state affiliate member program or the Independent Inventor Program.

All projects must have:

  • An inventor’s log (logbook or journal)
  • A poster board/trifold
  • A prototype (which may be non-working)
  • A four-minute unedited and continuous video of the pitch.
  • Projects must also be of sufficient accomplishment and design to be at a national competition level, as determined solely by the judges.

All accepted inventors will be deemed “Finalists” upon acceptance to the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo.

This competition is open to both individual and team competitors.

  • Teams may compete against individuals, and vice versa, for select award categories.
  • There is a limit of four (4) team members who may be on a team.
  • All team members in attendance must take part in the team “pitch” for the video and on competition day.
  • All members of the team are not required to be present during judging at the national event, however only those present during judging will be eligible for awards and other prizes.

Logbooks or journals must be brought to the competition when invention displays are set up on Friday, June 1.  Judging will take place during the afternoon on Friday, June 1. Teams only need to submit one logbook for their project. Logbooks do not need to be uploaded to the registration website.

There are no age restrictions.

Each student can enter only one entry into the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo.  No student can participate in both Team and Individual competition.

Project Restrictions

STEMIE supports the trifold display board size of 48” wide (24″ with both 12″ sides folded in) and 36” tall, and the trifold is expected to fit onto a footprint of no more than 30” wide (with sides folded in) on the tabletop. Your Prototype must fit within this space on the table as well, or in front of the table provided it does not encroach upon neighboring prototypes. No over-sized displays will be allowed in the judging circle. Please refer to the Competition Rules Page for additional size information.

The following items are not allowed on your person or in your project:

  • Electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices
  • Guns, replica guns, ammunition, and fireworks
  • Knives of any size
  • Mace and pepper spray
  • Razors and box cutters

Also, no balloons, glitter, or confetti are allowed in any form.

Award Categories

Award Categories

Place Awards (36): First, Second, and Third Place awards will be given for the following grades:

  • Grade K (Online)
  • Grade 1 (Online)
  • Grade 2 (Online)
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12

Note:  Some grades may be combined in not enough participants are entered for those grade levels individually.

Industry Focus Awards (13): One winner overall will be selected for the following:

These categories are:

  • Agriculture (Food, Machinery, Tools), Pets, and Animal Care
  • Consumer Goods and Fashion – Sponsored by Macy’s
  • Earth and Geosciences – Sponsored by AGI
  • Education (Technology, Systems, Tools, Hardware) – Sponsored by McGraw-Hill
  • Energy (Efficiency, Environmental, Clean Technology, Generation) – Sponsored by Chevron
  • Government/Public Safety – Sponsored by Washington Homeland Security Roundtable
  • Health and Medical Technology – Sponsored by BD
  • Home Organization – Sponsored by Macy’s
  • Home Technology, Smart Homes, Appliances – Sponsored by Carrier
  • Household Tools – Sponsored by Danaher
  • Sports, Games, Entertainment, and Toys – Sponsored by Chevron
  • Technology/Wearables
  • Transportation/Financial Infrastructure – Sponsored by Otis

Specialty Awards (13): One winner overall will be selected for the following:

  • App Award
  • Art / Creativity Award
  • Smart Audio, Cool Cars – Sponsored by Harman International Industries
  • Automation and Robotics Award
  • Best Blend of Design and Engineering Award – Sponsored by IDEAZ USA
  • CAD Award – Sponsored by Autodesk
  • Durability Award – Sponsored by UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS)
  • Electronics Award – Sponsored by Arrow Electronics
  • Innovative Materials – Sponsored by 3M
  • Inspiring Changemaker Award – Sponsored by littleBits
  • SWENext – Inventing Her Future Award – Sponsored by Society for Women Engineers (SWE)
  • Youth Achievement Award – Sponsored by Kurt Giessler Foundation
  • #ISeeHerInvent Award – Sponsored by CA Technologies

Provisional Patent Award – Winner/s will be chosen in K-12 for a number of provisional patent awards.

  • Most Patentable – Sponsored by Cantor Colburn

Invention Process Awards (4): One winner overall will be selected for the following:

  • Best Pitch Award
  • Best Logbook Award
  • Best Poster Award
  • Best Prototype Award

Global Change Awards (3)

  • Accessibility Award – Sponsored by 3Doodler
  • Community/Societal Benefit Award – Sponsored by The Lemelson Foundation
  • Jules Verne Award for Forward Thinking Inventiveness Award – Sponsored by Pratt & Whitney

Best-of-Show Awards (5): One winner overall will be selected for the following:

  • Staff’s Choice – Sponsored by The STEMIE Coalition / The Henry Ford
  • Best Engineering – Sponsored by Maxim Integrated
  • Most Visionary – Sponsored by Koch Industries
  • Most Innovative – Sponsored by Stanley Black and Decker
  • Most Sustainable – Sponsored by UTC


Teams will take part in the same judging processes as individuals. Rules for teams will mirror those of the individuals. Students will classify their inventions upon registration and will be judged in that category unless changed by the judges. The NICEE Staff and judges reserve the right to combine and/or reconfigure awards categories.

Awards provided to students, including any plaques and monetary awards, are the property of the awarded students and not the school or organization they are representing. Schools/organizations may purchase duplicate awards by contacting STEMIE staffers.  Where a team wins an award, The STEMIE Coalition will provide additional plaques or awards for the additional team members  after the event is concluded, provided the additional team members were present and participated in judging.  In cases where teammate did not participate at the in-person judging, they will not be eligible for awards or other prize.

Judging Process

Students will be judged at multiple times for different awards.  In some instances, the student will be present during the judging, and other times not.  There are multiple times a student may be judged:

  1. Before the event.  All students will upload an Invention Profile as part of the registration process. This will, among other things, contain a description of your invention, a picture of your invention, and a 4-min (max) unedited and continuous pitch video about your invention (we do not accept “produced” videos; video should reflect live pitch). All student inventions will be judged according to this Invention Profile information by a set of pre-event judges. During this judging period, each invention will be given a score, and feedback on their invention — both to be provided to the student at the conclusion of judging. Dozens of judges will review these inventions and score them, and we expect each invention will be scored by multiple judges. Some awards, such as sponsored awards by sponsors without a physical presence at the event, may be judged wholly on this preliminary judging period. Some awards will use this score in combination with the on-site score to come up with a final score for each student. In short, the Invention Profile is important and should not be just done in a few minutes off the cuff.
  2. During the afternoon of the event.  All students will take part in “judging circles” — peer review judging environments (typically including up to 8 inventions), where each student will pitch to the other students while the judges watch and ask questions of all the kids in the circle.  Each student or student team will have four minutes to pitch their invention, and five minutes to answer questions, from both peers and judges. For teams, all team members attending for a team project must share a part making the pitch. Judges will take a moment at the end of each student’s/team’s presentation to make any notes or comments they have on their electronic scoring device, before moving on to the next student/team. When the judging circles are done, designated award judges may visit the student exhibits and have a follow up conversation with some students before determining the final scoring for their respective award.

For the main Place awards, a combination of the pre-event judging and judging circle judging scores will determine placement. Ties will be broken by highest scores in this criteria order:

  • Process
  • Solution
  • Impact
  • Presentation

For the Staff’s Choice award, the pre-event judging will solely be used to determine a winner.  For the rest of the awards, any or all of the event judging periods may be used to direct judging, at the discretion of the judges.  In most instances, these are sponsored awards who will determine the best process for their organizations to select winners.

All K-2 will be judged online before the event using the student invention profiles only.

All students — online and in person — will only find out how they did in the competition at the Closing Awards Ceremony Friday evening. This awards ceremony will be streamed live over the Internet for parents and siblings at home to watch.

We want this process to be one of instilling enthusiasm and excitement in students, and not one focused solely on the competition.  More than 45 awards are likely to be given out to Individual contestants at the event, plus awards to Teams taking part, but all the students attending are winners for just having gotten to the national final.  We will be making a lot of effort to make this clear.  Still some kids will excel, and we will be working hard to showcase these kids to the nation too!  We hope to see lots of kids here year after year — serial kid inventors are our favorites!

Judging Criteria

All projects must have the following information in one consolidated place on the poster:

  • Student(s) Name(s)
  • Project Name
  • Student(s) Grade(s)
  • Student(s) School
  • School City, State
  • Preferred Industry Focused Award Category (e.g. Telecommunications)
  • Patent Status

For the last point, Patent Status, there should be three options:

  1. None
  2. Under Counsel
  3. Patent Pending

Student should note on their posters with “Patent Pending” for Patent Status only if a provisional or non-provisional patent application has been filed.  If you are currently represented by an attorney or patent agent (pro bono  or otherwise), then mark “Under Counsel.”  It is possible to be both “Under Counsel” and “Patent Pending”, or just “Under Counsel”, or just “Patent Pending” (if you did the filing yourself, e.g.).

The following criteria will be used for judging the Place category.

Invention Process

  • Identifying & Understanding
  • Ideating
  • Designing & Building
  • Testing & Refining

Invention Impact

  • Market Potential
  • Value Proposition
  • Social Value
  • Originality

Inventor Communication

  • Logbook
  • Display Board
  • Prototype or Model
  • The Live Pitch & Q&A

When presenting your pitch and making your poster, you will optimize your competitiveness if you pay attention to the above criteria.

About the four-minute videos for pre-judging, we’re aiming for continuously running unedited videos to make sure the playing field is as level as possible. This is not a video competition, so we don’t want to confuse the purpose. Some regional competitions haven’t even happened yet, so many will be working on significantly compressed timelines. Additionally, some won’t have access to editing and we don’t want to arbitrarily disadvantage them.

For information how to pitch and how to make your video, click here.

Other awards have more specific criteria which are not shared but are can be reasonably extrapolated from the category.  For instance, Best Pitch will focus more on then the Presentation elements above.

More Info



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