Special Competitions-Undergraduate Research Office - Carnegie Mellon University

Special Competitions

Meeting of the Minds has always included a competition segment in the Symposium, sponsored by several University organizations, academic departments and schools; individuals; and corporations. If you would like to compete, or are required to, please read the following information and check the appropriate box on the online registration form. Please note that the competitions are run fully by the sponsors, not the Undergraduate Research Office.  Your project abstracts will be used to pre-judge your entry into most competitions.  The deadline for registration is April 2, 2014 - students must be registered by the deadline, and check each applicable competition to compete in. All competitors will be required to attend the Awards Ceremony at 5:00 p.m. held at the Meeting of the Minds on May 7.

Alcoa Undergraduate Research Awards
The Allen Newell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research
Alumni Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Computer Science
Award for Artistic Excellence
The Boeing Blue Skies Award
CIT Honors Research Poster Competition
Dietrich Humanities Prize
Johnson & Johnson Undergraduate Research Awards
Psychology Department Competition
Sigma Xi Poster Competition
SRC-URO Poster Competition
Statistics Competitions
Triple Helix Competition
Toyota Ideas for Good Scholars Award
Undergraduate Economics Program (UEP) Competition
Undergraduate Environmental Research Award
Yahoo! Undergraduate Research Award 

Alcoa Undergraduate Research Awards

Alcoa Inc. is accepting project submissions in Information Technology, with a focus on mobility.  Mobility is a key future state for all computing, where connectivity from anywhere to anywhere with myriad devices and for unlimited uses will be expected...and needed.  How can we prepare to connect any-to-any seamlessly and securely, and how can this new paradigm add value for companies like ours?

We are looking for project ideas that offer creative, innovative solutions: First prize - $1000; Second Prize - $300; Third Prize - $200.  Prizes will be awarded for the top three winners during the Awards Ceremony, McConomy Auditorium, 5 pm.

The Allen Newell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Open only to students in SCS.  This endowed award, established in 1993, is presented annually by the School of Computer Science. Allen Newell had a long, rich and distinguished scientific career that contributed to multiple subdisciplines in computer science. Still, each individual endeavor was pursued with a characteristic style that his colleagues, students, and friends recognized as essential to Allen. Owing to the breadth and scope of Allen's contributions, this award recognizes extraordinary undergraduate research in his scientific style rather than computer science research in a particular area. The criteria by which a research project is judged is predicated, foremost, on the belief that a good idea is not enough.  The qualities that transform a good idea into good science can be captured in three maxims attributable to Allen:
1) Good science responds to real phenomena or real problems.
2) Good science is in the details.
3) Good science makes a difference.

Alumni Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Computer Science

Open only to students in SCS.  The Alumni Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Computer Science, established in 2003, is granted on behalf of Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science alumni. The Award recognizes technical excellence in research and development. The Award is also intended to promote awareness within the undergraduate community that graduation represents both the end of an important phase of life and the beginning of a new phase within the vibrant Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science community as an alumnus. The Alumni Award recognizes such factors as contribution to the state of the art; technical excellence; potential societal impact; accessibility; quality of the written, oral, and poster presentations; and generated excitement among the alumni community participating in the process.

Award for Artistic Excellence

The Award for Artistic Excellence receives support from two sources: engineers in support of the arts and The Center for the Arts in Society (CAS) at Carnegie Mellon. Visual and performing arts presentations are eligible for this award. Semi-finalists will be chosen from abstracts submitted with symposium registrations. Semi-finalists will be notified prior to the symposium. Judges will attend presentations/performances the day of the symposium to select award winners. Winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in McConomy Auditorium beginning at 5 PM the day of the symposium.

The Boeing Blue Skies Award

Boeing is pleased to sponsor The Boeing Blue Skies Award, created to encourage undergraduate students to present innovative research with applications involving technologies in wireless communications, networking protocols, sensors, controls and algorithms, cyber security, and autonomous vehicles.  The Blue Skies Award is designed to reward students who dream big and deliver creative solutions to aerospace challenges through sound engineering principles and innovative technology applications.

Two prizes will be awarded:

  • 1st Place: Game Changer - $1000
  • 2nd Place: Most Creative - $500
Prizes will be awarded during the Awards Ceremony, McConomy Auditorium, at 5 p.m.

CIT Honors Research Poster Competition

All CIT Honors students are required to present their work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium on May 7, 2014. Please do not schedule any activities (job interviews, plant trips, etc.) which might conflict with your participation. You will participate in the "CIT Honors Research Poster Session" during which assigned faculty and industry judges will circulate. You should be prepared to present a brief overview of your project and answer any questions.  Laptops or other equipment are permittedas supplements to the poster. Three cash prizes will be awarded at the Awards Ceremony at 5 pm in McConomy Auditorium.

The criteria for the prizes will include oral and visual presentation, and response to questions. During the first round of judging, students should be prepared to speak for about 5-8 minutes about their work using their poster as their visual aid. The second round of judging will allow each finalist a 8-10 minute presentation (again using their poster as a visual aid) and a short question and answer session in front of a panel of judges.

Students will be selected for the finalist session of presentations and will be announced at the Symposium welcome at 2:30pm in Kirr Commons. The final round will take place from 3-5pm in Rangos 1.

You may obtain a poster board from Kourtney Bandish in Scaife Hall 110 the week of April 21, 2014.

Dietrich Humanities Prize

The Dietrich Humanities Prize is awarded to student projects that best exemplify the humanities as they are understood at Carnegie Mellon: that the study of philosophy, history, language, and cultures enriches our experience and offers a template for understanding both traditional disciplinary legacies and new directions in scholarly inquiry.  In addition to concrete emphasis on problem solving, the humanities at Carnegie Mellon seek ongoing dialogues with - not isolation from - the arts, sciences and technologies.

Johnson & Johnson Undergraduate Research Awards

Johnson & Johnson is accepting project submissions in the field of Information Technology, with a focus on Healthcare Innovation.  The Johnson & Johnson IT Innovation organization is responsible for identifying possibilities to drive the Johnson & Johnson business forward.  A core component of our strategy is fostering a culture of innovation within Healthcare IT.    

We are looking for innovative project ideas that will show creative, one of a kind Healthcare IT solutions that drive market leadership and competitive advantage.  As a leading healthcare organization, we would like to see ideas that cultivate new developments within the healthcare space and ones that also integrate a strong focus in Information Technology.  First prize - $1000, Second Prize - $500, Third Prize - $250.  Prizes will be awarded for the top three winners during the Awards Ceremony, McConomy Auditorium, 5 p.m.

Psychology Department Competition

The department of Psychology is sponsoring a poster/presentation competition for all undergraduate students who are presently advised by a member of the psychology department. A panel of faculty judges will evaluate each project on the following criteria:

- Quality of the work
- Clarity of the objectives
- Significance of the work
- Creativity of the work
- Oral presentation (weighted more for talks)
- Visual representation (weighted more for posters)
- Response to questions

All students should be prepared to present a brief overview of their research and to answer questions regarding their work.

Cash prizes will be awarded for the best talk and the best poster.  The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at 5pm in McConomy Auditorium.

Sigma Xi Poster Competition

The Sigma Xi poster competition is an independently sponsored event within the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Coordinated by the Carnegie Mellon chapter of Sigma Xi, a national honor society for those engaging in scientific research, the competition is open to students presenting posters in the quantitative sciences. (*The organizers reserve the right to not accept an abstract if the research is of non-quantitative nature.*)  In the past, this has included students from the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and quantitative social sciences. You will be assigned a time to give a short presentation next to your poster. (The use of laptops will be allowed only to present data such as movies or time lapse of an experiment. They should not be used as a substitution of the poster, but only for data or images that are difficult to print or be represented on paper.) A panel of judges judges drawn from the University and industry will rate your presentation using the following equally-weighted criteria:

-abstract quality and clarity 
-clarity of objective
-organization of thoughts
-general quality of work
-significance of work
-oral presentation skills
-visual presentation quality
-response to questions

Finalists will be selected for a second and final round of presentations and will be announced at 2:30pm in Kirr Commons. The final round will take place from 3-5pm in Rangos 2 and 3.  Winners will be announced and cash prizes will be awarded at the Awards Ceremony at 5pm in McConomy Auditorium.

The SRC-URO Poster Competition

Open only to  SRC-URO students.  Students who have participated in the SRC-URO (Semi-Conductor Research Corporation - Undergraduate Research Opportunities) program in Spring 2012 through Spring 2013 are eligible to enter in the  SRC-URO Poster Competition. This competition seeks to recognize significant and creative work supported by the  SRC programs and to encourage students to develop and practice visual and oral presentation skills suitable for academic conferences and industrial research venues. A first-place ($500) and two runner-up ($250 each) cash prizes will be awarded.

Eligible projects must have been supported by  SRC-URO program in Spring 2012-Spring 2013. All entrants must be undergraduates. Work done as part of a larger group or lab project is welcome, but the poster and presentation should focus specifically on the research work done by the participating SRC-URO student(s).

During judging, all students will be asked to give an oral presentation of 5-10 minutes duration about their work using their poster as their visual aid. Where a video, animation, or demonstration is helpful in explaining the work the student may also refer to supporting exhibits displayed on a computer, but the poster must capture the core of the work. Judges, who will be identified with name badges, may visit each poster individually or in groups, and poster presenters should be prepared to explain their work to passerby and other students as well as judges. If necessary, the judges may select a number of finalists and revisit their posters as a group near the end of the judging period.

The judging panel will include possibly Intel and SRC representatives and may include CMU faculty. The judges will be chosen after the registration deadline. All judges' decisions will be final.

The following judging criteria will be used:

- Quality, creativity, significance, and potential impact of the work (40%)

- Clarity of the objectives, and quality of visual presentation (30%)

- Clarity and quality of oral presentation and response to questions (30%)

A total of $1000 will be awarded to 3 projects:
First Prize: The winning project will be awarded $500.
Runners-Up: Two runners-up will be awarded $250 each.

Statistics Competitions

Statistics Poster Competition
This competition is sponsored by the Department of Statistics. Its purpose is to encourage undergraduate projects and research in statistics, and to educate the CMU community about the wide range of opportunities in statistics.

The competition is open to any student or team of students who have completed a project under supervision or with guidance of a Statistics faculty member. At least half the members of the team must be enrolled at CMU as undergraduates in the spring semester of 2012. A panel of judges will rate the projects according to the following criteria:

-quality of abstract
-clarity of objective
-organization of thoughts
-general quality of work
-significance of work
-oral presentation skills
-visual presentation quality
-appropriate use of statistical methods
-responses to questions

The first place winner or team will receive $500.  Additional prizes may be awarded.

Statistics Oral Presentation Competition
This competition is sponsored by the Department of Statistics and is limited to students working on an Honors Thesis in Statistics.

A panel of judges will rate the projects according to the following criteria:

-quality and originality of work
-significance of work
-presentation quality
-statistical methods used
-responses to questions

The first place winner will receive $250.

The winners will be announced and the prizes awarded at the Awards Ceremony at 5pm in McComony Auditorium. 

Triple Helix Competition

The Triple Helix is the undergraduate journal of science, society, and law at Carnegie Mellon. Through the venues of written expression and campus lectures, our goal is to promote the understanding of the impact of science and technology on society and their interaction with the law. This award is presented to students conducting research in any field and recognizes the impact that their research has on both science and society. We are awarding a first prize award of $100 and a second prize award of $50 to the students whose work best embodies this mission. Upon acceptance, winners will  be expected to write a short paragraph about their research for publication in our journal. 

The winners will be announced and the prizes awarded at the Awards Ceremony at 5pm in McComony Auditorium.

Toyota Ideas for Good Scholars Award

All participants in Meeting of the Minds, whose research projects emphasize environmental ("green") themes, broadly defined, with applications designed to improve people's lives are eligible to enter the competition for the Toyota Ideas for Good Scholars Award.

This award was created to encourage learning and investigation in green ideas and technology, emphasizing areas that can create improvement in the lives of people in the US and internationally.  This award is sponsored by a gift from Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

To compete for this award, you must check the appropriate box during registration.  You may apply for this award in addition to other awards.  It is open to students in all disciplines.

A panel of judges, including a judge from Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., will evaluate your poster or presentation using the following criteria:

  • understanding the work
  • understanding and potential for environmental/green impact
  • understanding and potential for the impact on lives of individuals
  • quality of the work
The award winner will receive a cash prize of $750.  There may be up to three such awards.  The winner(s) will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at 5 pm in McConomy Auditorium.

Undergraduate Economics Program (UEP) Competition

A goal of the Undergraduate Economics Program is to encourage students to think creatively and bring together their formal training with their passions.

Eligibility:  Open to any undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Economics or team of undergraduate students enrolled in an UEP course.  Eligible prospects include students writing a senior thesis in Economics and projects developed in UEP courses (including independent study).

Students meeting the eligibility requirements must participate in the "Oral Presentations" category during Meeting of the Minds in order to be considered for the award.  Participating in the "Poster Sessions" is not sufficient.

Judging is based on the following factors: a) the quality of the abstract; b) intellectual process and results described in the presentation; and c) presentation skills (including Q&A) during the Meeting of the Minds.

Winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at 5 pm in McConomy Auditorium.

Undergraduate Environmental Research Award

All Undergraduate Research Symposium participants undertaking projects with a strong environmental component are eligible to enter the competition for the Undergraduate Environmental Research Award. This award is sponsored by the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research and the Green Design Institute. To compete for this award, you must check the appropriate box on the registration form. You may apply for this award in addition to applying for other awards such as the CIT Honors Poster Competition, Sigma Xi Poster competition etc.

A panel of judges will rate your poster or presentation using the following criteria:

-Responsibility for the work
-Understanding the work
-Understanding of the environmental relevance
-Understanding of the context and other approaches
-Quality of the work

The award winner will receive a cash prize of $250, and at least one runner-up award will be given with a cash prize of $100. The winner will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at 5pm in McConomy Auditorium.

Yahoo! Undergraduate Research Award

Yahoo! will be looking for interesting and creative projects in the area of mobile computing/applications and use of location awareness and Web-accessed local information.

Three awards (a finalist of $500, and two runners-up of $250 each) will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at 5 pm in McConomy Auditorium.