Task Sponsored by  NMSU Arrowhead Center


The purpose of the Open Task is to create an opportunity for teams to present solutions to issues that are focused on the general area of the environment, including, but certainly not limited to, energy and water. Reliable, low-cost sources of energy, dependable sources of water for a variety of uses, and a clean environment are essential to continue, sustainable development around the world.  At the same time, experience in innovation is a key component in the development of a high-quality workforce leading to a competitive, economically viable society.

A pursuit of demonstrable, innovative solutions that are economically feasible and could be put into practice has always been a major emphasis of the competition.  In the creation of the Open Task, it is our intent to encourage participation by multi-disciplinary teams who submit solutions to real-life issues related to the focus areas highlighted above. Response to a current issue of national importance is highly encouragedParticipation is invited and encouraged from students in all STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) fields.

Problem Statement

Your team must identify a real-life environmental, energy, or water-related issue and the market for your solution to this issue, design and demonstrate your proposed solution, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of your solution versus both current technologies and other possible approaches.

Design Considerations

For this task, teams should design a solution to the problem identified, and create an experimental apparatus to demonstrate it.  Identify a test protocol which may be used to evaluate your solution.  Present a business case for your technology including potential incentives from appropriate levels of government and supporting economic metrics.  Consideration should be given to the following:

  • How variation in operational conditions impacts the performance of the technology
  • Under what conditions is the proposed solution most effective, i.e. what are the limitations of the technology
  • What are the appropriate metrics for evaluating the technology (i.e. cost to implement and maintain, energy requirements, waste generation, ease of operation, etc.)
  • How does this technology compare to other possible methods of problem mitigation
  • Identification of appropriate federal (USA), state and local laws and regulations
  • What the hazards of the proposed solution are and approaches to mitigate the issue

Bench-Scale Demonstration

During the bench-scale demonstration, your team should plan to present a functional bench-scale model that clearly conveys the proposed solution.  Your team should develop, demonstrate and present a complete package that includes technical performance as well as financial, regulatory, and safety information.

At least one month prior to the contest, your team must provide a detailed test plan for the proposed solution that will be used as part of the overall process of judging your solution.  Be aware that if analytical testing of a treated sample is required, the testing must take place over no more than a 48 hour period.  Samples must be made available with enough time for this testing to take place prior to the conclusion of the contest.  Laboratory testing requiring an extended period of time can not be done under the contest time constraints.  Prior coordination with the Engineering NM team is required.  If you have any questions, please contact

Written Report Requirements

The written report should demonstrate your team’s insight into the full scope of the issue that you have chosen and include all aspects of the problem and your proposed solution. The report will be evaluated for quality of writing, organization, clarity, reason, and coherence. Standards for publications in technical journals apply.  In addition to the listed requirements, your report must address in detail the items highlighted in the Problem Statement, Design Considerations, and Evaluation Criteria.

Evaluation Criteria

Upon registration, you will be provided with a copy of the Public Involvement Plan and Participation Guide. Each team is advised to read the Participation Guide for a comprehensive understanding of the contest evaluation criteria.

Additionally, your proposed design will be evaluated on the following:

  • Technical fundamentals, performance, safety and other issues stated in the problem statement
  • The potential for real-life implementation
  • Comprehensiveness of performance metrics
  • Thoroughness and quality of the business plan and economic analysis
  • Originality, innovation, functionality, ease of use, maintainability, reliability, and affordability of the proposed technology