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3M Disruptive Design Challenge Tasks College Engineers with Solving a Humanitarian Aid Delivery Challenge

Teams from four U.S. universities with top engineering programs are being tasked with using tapes and adhesives to construct emergency relief delivery containers in the finals of the inaugural 3M Disruptive Design Challenge (DDC). Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, North Dakota State University, and the University of Minnesota’s are represented in the Challenge to create a rugged container capable of surviving an airdrop in one piece.

The challenge, underway on April 12th and 13th, was designed through 3M’s partnership with Direct Relief, a non-profit that in 2106 helped deliver over 18 hundred tons of medical supplies, vaccines, and medications around the U.S. and across the globe.

Using 3M Industrial adhesives and tapes instead of mechanical fasteners, each package must be repurpose-able, moisture resistant, and capable of surviving a 40-meter drop from a crane, mimicking a real-world air drop to a remote location.

The Challenge was created by 3M’s Industrial Adhesives and Tapes division as a way to expose and educate the next generation of innovative engineers to the various uses and design benefits of chemical bonding and adhesive solutions.  Division management had observed that traditional engineering school curriculums often lack exposure to alternative solutions.  Now the contest has the dual purpose of closing a knowledge gap for collegiate-level engineers while also promoting the freedom to design.

3M IATD Technical Director, Shirin Saadat, spoke about what the DDC means for the participating students in a press release, saying that, “The 3M Disruptive Design Challenge offers them an opportunity to hone technical skills, tap into their creativity and perhaps most importantly, experience the importance of collaboration, which is fundamental to 3M’s values, all while gaining valuable experience with product solutions that are not frequently taught in the classroom.”

Judging the contest along with Saadat are guest judges Patricia Bacuros, director, philanthropic investment for Direct Relief, and Grant Imahara, electrical engineer and roboticist.