1. About the Challenge
  • Competition Overview

    3M’s Disruptive Design Challenge (DDC) is a hands-on, interactive opportunity for future engineers to put their skills and creativity to the test in a real-life simulation. It engages professors and students in all steps of the engineering design process, with emphasis on collaboration, prototyping, testing, selecting bonding products—and above all, critical thinking.


    Each of the participating universities will assign a team captain to represent their engineering program and school. Each team captain will select seven fellow students to participate as members of their DDC team. To ensure success, each team will be paired with an alum mentor currently working as a 3M engineer or product leader.

    The Challenge Scenario

    Every year, humanitarian emergencies caused by natural disasters, war and famine affect millions of civilians around the world. In these situations, distributing supplies via container-based airdrops are typically the only viable option due to the often extreme conditions associated with the scenarios, such as high winds, altitudes, location and more.


    These much-needed relief supplies are often damaged during air drops or on impact, making this a less desirable and often uneconomical delivery method.


    The containers carrying emergency and relief supplies are also not reusable—they are either destroyed from the impact of delivery, or the materials used to manufacture or design the container cannot be repurposed and contribute to waste. However, despite these challenges, airdrops are sometimes necessary due to a region’s infrastructure or the nature of the situation.


    3M is challenging each of the four student teams to design and build an emergency delivery container that disrupts current industry barriers associated with container-based air drops. Each build should be constructed with the following assumptions:


    These supplies that would typically be delivered by trucks to warehouses and staging areas in anticipation of an emergency situation are not available


    There has been no time to prepare and provide the supplies to the affected area, so the supplies must be dropped from an aircraft


    There is a parachute failure and the contents must be delivered intact and still usable


    The delivery container must be repurposed in a manner useful to the rescue/relief effort

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