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Engineering & Computer Projects

(6th to 12th graders only)

Because Engineering & Computer projects often don't follow the scientific method in the same way that other projects do (rather than having variables, controls, etc., they tend to involve the development of new technology), some excellent engineering & computer projects tend to be penalized by our general judging criteria. Thus, these projects will now be judged separately from general science projects, using different criteria.

Engineering & computer projects will be divided into two groups for judging -- 6th-8th and 9th-12th. (The engineering option will not be available to K-5 students.)

How do you know whether your project should be entered as an engineering or computer project? Sometimes it's hard to tell. Some projects may seem like engineering projects, when they are actually better defined as physics projects. The ISEF web site definitions are as follows:

Computer Science
Study and development of computer hardware, software engineering, internet networking and communications, graphics (including human interface), simulations / virtual reality or computational science (including data structures, encryption, coding, and information theory).
Engineering
Technology projects that directly apply scientific principles to manufacturing and practical usesócivil, mechanical, aeronautical, chemical, electrical, photographic, sound, automotive, marine, heating and refrigeration, transportation, environmental engineering, and so on.
Physics
Theories, principles, and laws governing energy and the effect of energy on matterósolid state, optics, acoustics, particle, nuclear, atomic, plasma, superconductivity, fluid and gas dynamics, thermodynamics, semiconductors, magnetism, quantum mechanics, biophysics, and so on.

Here are some examples; what kinds of projects are they?

The first question involves creating new technology; it's clearly an engineering project. The second project is a physics experiment: the effect of gear ratio on distance traveled. The third one is a bit tricky -- it's an engineering experiment. It isn't directly involved in creating new technology, but it does apply scientific principles to practical uses and would be considered an engineering project. Still not sure where your project should go? Then ask the director!

Basic problem-solving steps involved in an engineering project:

Here's a site with more information about the engineering process: http://www.sciencebuddies.com/mentoring/project_engineering.shtml

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Questions? Contact the GPHSF Director. Last modified: 22 August 2006