Engineers enter NAE video contest with top prize of $25,000

April 21, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Three Penn State engineering teams are among the entries for the National Academy of Engineering's (NAE) Engineering for You (E4U) video contest commemorating the NAE's 50th anniversary.

Entrants include: Conrad Tucker, assistant professor of engineering design and industrial engineering; Lauren Murphy, senior in mechanical engineering and film and video; and a group of students from the Engineering Leadership Development Minor (ELDM).

The contest aims to highlight how engineering creations serve the welfare of humanity and the needs of society and offers a top prize of $25,000.

Individuals and teams were invited to enter in one of six categories: middle school students and younger (kindergarten to eighth grade), high school students (grades nine to 12), tertiary education students (two-year college through graduate school, full or part time), NAE Frontiers of Engineering and Frontiers of Engineering Education participants/alumni, NAE members and foreign associates and the general public.

Tucker's video highlights notable past, present and future engineering achievements, starting with the inception of the NAE and finishing with a look beyond our cosmos, as humanity ponders the new frontier of design, engineering and innovation. It can be viewed at

Murphy's submission portrays the empowerment of women in the engineering field and predicts that women will become equal forces on engineering teams, playing a greater role to enhance the health, happiness and safety of our world. It can be viewed at

The ELDM video showcases a recent trip to The Gambia during which students delivered two baobab processing machines they built at Penn State. It can be viewed at

Tucker said he's been conceptualizing his video since he attended the NAE Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium last October. He explained, "I started to think of the best way to communicate the impact that engineering has had on humanity. I wanted to do it in a way that would be easy to understand in order to maximize the breadth of the audience, beyond the typical engineering crowd."

He enlisted help from Jessie Wang, a 2013 College of Information Sciences and Technology graduate, to find the best available software to render the animations and create the initial character representations, based on a script that he provided. Tucker noted, "Overall, it was a very rewarding experience and showcased the exciting results that can be attained with modern day technology."

Murphy had a little less time to complete her video. With two weeks left in the contest submission period, she recruited her sister Brittany Murphy, a 2013 industrial engineering graduate, as a cartoonist, and her friend Will Batchelor, a senior in film and video, to serve as the animator. Meanwhile, Murphy wrote the script, shot video footage of Penn State students in a variety of disciplines and completed the voiceover.

She said she felt it would be difficult to hone in on one particular type of technology in a two-minute video, so she chose to deliver a message that would appeal to the tech-minded as well as the general population. "I really care about increasing the number of women in the engineering field. The Women in Engineering Program and the Engineering Ambassadors work hard to recruit more female engineering students and my involvement with those groups made me more passionate about it."

Mike Erdman, Walter L. Robb Director of Engineering Leadership Development and the group’s adviser, explained, "Our reception in The Gambia was extraordinary, with a dozen dancers and musicians greeting us as we got off the ferry. During a reception at the governor’s office and a formal ceremony with representatives from the Gambian government, students explained and demonstrated their machine." Students included aerospace engineering's Gretchen Buttorff; chemical engineering's Sarah Torhan; and mechanical engineering's Heather Pieszala, Cara Suni and Kyle Walker.

Submissions will be judged by a panel of professionals from various engineering fields and the film and media industries. They will make their decisions based on the following criteria: creativity in the content selection and presentation, anticipated breadth of public appeal and interest and effectiveness in highlighting engineering achievements serving advancement in human welfare and the needs of society in an engaging and entertaining way. The Best Video Overall will receive $25,000.

E4U judges will also select a subset of videos to be considered for a People's Choice Award. Entrants will be notified by May 1 whether or not their video is eligible. Public voting commences June 1 and concludes July 31. Each People's Choice winner will receive $5,000.

Winning videos also will be featured on the NAE website and the NAE contest website and will be shown at the NAE 50th anniversary celebration during the academy's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in September.

Last Updated May 12, 2016