Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

Sustainable Design Challenge

The CAD Sustainable Design Challenge is an online, skill-based challenge.

Sustainability is about using engineering and science to reduce human environmental impact. This can mean producing renewable energy, using less energy, replacing high-environmental-impact materials with low-impact alternatives, recycling, reusing, and designing upgradeable products that can meet future needs without having to be replaced.



  • 1st: CAD Sustainable Design Challenge Award, $750 gift certificate and automatic team qualification for the 2014 VRC World Championship (if the winner is a registered VRC team)
  • 2nd: $500 gift certificate
  • 3rd: $250 gift certificate



Use CAD software to design a robot or robotically-controlled machine that achieves one or more sustainability goals. The model may show either a full-size robot, or a smaller-scale model of a larger machine.

You may use any CAD software for this challenge.

To understand more about specific sustainable design strategies that may be relevant to your design, we encourage you to consider these issues:

  • Whole Systems and Lifecycle Thinking: Looking at the big picture to understand how products or buildings are made, used and disposed of so these considerations are included from the start.
  • Lightweighting: Factoring in the types of materials using, the manufacturing processes required for your design, and the geometry of your design to minimize material use
  • Green Materials Selection: Making an informed choice about green materials by using good data on a material.s environmental impact
  • Improving Product Lifetime: Ensuring your using the right strategies for optimizing a product.s life and end-of-life
  • Energy Efficient Design: Ensuring the design addresses optimal energy efficiency

As mentioned, sustainability can involve many different things. Here are some examples of actual robots that are either in use or under development:

  • A robot that monitors energy usage in a home or business
  • A robot which recycles used materials
  • Robotic applications in agriculture such as precision fertilizer applications, reduced soil compaction, or soil monitoring
  • Robotically-implemented vertical urban farming
  • Robots that automatically find and repair urban potholes
  • Robotic transit systems that do not use tracks
  • Robots that travel to collect information on soil and water chemistry and temperatures

  • This contest is open to students anywhere in the world currently registered in an educational institution at the middle school, high school or college/university level, or to home schooled students not enrolled in college or university classes up to 18 years old.
  • Designs submitted in previous Online Challenges are not eligible for submission this year.
  • If your team participates in more than one of the eligible REC Foundation partner programs listed in the Prizes section above, your team may submit up to one CAD Sustainable Design Challenge entry per program you are involved in, as long as the designs submitted are different in significant ways. Each participating team, class, or individual may only submit one (1) design for each REC Foundation partner program.

These are the minimum requirements for this challenge. The "Evaluation" section below will provide additional guidance on how your project will be judged. Failure to fulfill any of these requirements may result in your entry being disqualified from advancing to Finalist or Winner status.

  • Use CAD software to design a robot or robotically-controlled machine that achieves one or more of the sustainability goals.
  • Write a description, no more than 750 words long. This should:
    • Explain how the robot would be used to address environmental issues in a meaningful and positive way.
    • Document the design process from the beginning of the project to your final design in Autodesk CAD software, and explain what features of the Autodesk software were most helpful in the process.
  • Document the design process using three or four images or drawings that show your progress from storyboard progression to finished design, using PNG, JPEG, GIF, or PDF files.
  • Additional CAD-generated images should include the following:
    • Completed Design - Four images (Front, Back, Side and Top views)
    • Assemblies - Three or four Isometric images that illustrate the key assemblies making up your finished robot design
    • Part Documentation - Three or four images that illustrate the progression of a key significant part of your robot and how you built from sketch to the completed part
  • Produce a YouTube video up to 60 seconds long showing the design/construction of the robot. This could be an animated presentation or it could be still shots with narration, captions, or some other means of informing the viewer about the design. Provide a link to this video as part of your submission.
Evaluation and Additional Information
  • The Finalists will submit their actual CAD files to a special site for the final round of judging -- the link will be provided to the Finalists after they are announced.
  • Robot design and function: To what degree does the robot meet the requirement of being used for sustainability purposes? Is the design efficient, simple, and elegant using as few materials as possible? Can it be easily disassembled, repaired, and recycled? Does it incorporate features to reduce non-renewable energy use?
  • Does the design work show a high level of knowledge and skill using Autodesk design software? Excellence in use of Autodesk software is a key criterion of the submitted design.
  • Brainstorming and Design Process Documentation: Do the renderings do a good job of presenting the design?
  • Written description of the robot: Judged on clarity, thoroughness and design process and description of its use.
  • Overview images: Quality of the isometric images of the front, back, side and top of robot
  • Assemblies: Images that illustrate the key assemblies making up your finished robot design
  • Part Documentation: images that illustrate the design progression of a key significant part of your robot and how you built from sketch to the completed part

Judges will select ten finalists from the submitted entries, and will take community voting results into account in making their choices. The finalist submissions will then be judged by additional selected professionals whose scores will be combined with the preliminary-round judges. scores to determine the winner of the CAD Sustainable Design Challenge Award.

Deadline Information

Current time:
Tue, Apr 23, 2024 9:30 AM CDT


Tue, Sep 17, 2013 7:00 PM CDT


Tue, Jan 14, 2014 12:00 PM CST

Voting Ends:

Fri, Jan 31, 2014 6:00 AM CST