KC STEM Alliance announces PLTW Design competition winners

KC STEM Alliance awards $10,000 in scholarship prizes

and recognizes innovation in engineering and biomedical projects

Project Lead The Way senior capstone projects test practical solutions for improving the process for laying concrete, traffic congestion, and safer pill bottles; as well as medical research on insulin, lead nitrate pollution and cancer treatment

May 8, 2019—The KC STEM Alliance has announced the top finishers in the Project Lead The Way-KC Engineering Design Competition and the Biomedical Research Competitions, which recognize excellence in engineering or biomedical science among students enrolled in senior capstone courses.

Competition participants submit projects online using the Innovation Portal, a free, open, and secure tool for design and problem-solving works. Practicing industry professionals then judge student works, evaluating how the projects illustrate students’ design-thinking and problem-solving capabilities.

This year’s Engineering Design Competition included a field of 85 projects from 171 PLTW Engineering students and 19 PLTW Biomedical Science students, and this year’s Biomedical Research Competition featured 62 innovative projects from 87 students.

PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram, Ed.D., announced the winners of these competitions in a video message earlier today.

Engineering Design Competition

The Kansas City Engineering Design Competition drew 85 projects from 171 students. Winning first place and a $2,500 scholarship was Brandon Higgins of DeSoto High School for his Rebar Chairs project, which improves the efficiency of integrating rebar into concrete pavement.

Timothy Nunez and Ronald Smith of Shawnee Mission South/Shawnee Mission Center for Academic Excellence took second place and a $1,500 scholarship prize for “KinderProof Pill Bottle Lock,” a design improvement for childproof pill bottles. And winning third place and a $1,000 team prize for traffic improvements in Western Shawnee USD 232 was the Mill Valley High School team comprised of Seth Hobson, Zach Steiger, Branden Webb and Ryan Williams.

The full list of Engineering Design Competition projects and teams scoring in the top 10*:

Biomedical Research Competition

This year’s Biomedical Research Competition featured 62 innovative projects from 87 students.

Makenzi Schroeder of Lee’s Summit West High/Summit Technology Academy took first place and a $2,500 scholarship for her research into the effect of over-the-counter insulin and prescription insulin. Grain Valley High School’s Madyson Marrs took second and a $1,500 scholarship for her project examining the effect of lead nitrate pollution on aquatic environments. Liberty North’s Anthony Garcia received third place and a $1,000 scholarship for his research on Ubiquitin Cycle Manipulation for cancer treatment.

Biomedical Research Competition Top 10*

Innovator Awards Competition

Eleven additional teams won Innovator Awards, which were judged and announced during the PLTW Senior High School Showcase on April 23 at Union Station. Seventy-five teams were nominated by their teachers to take part in this competition, designed to recognize innovation and marketability of projects in the showcase. Nearly 50 “guest investors” from the business, academic and entrepreneurial fields heard students pitch their innovations and determined the winners by investing “Commerce bucks” in the projects they deemed to have the most innovation and market potential.

The winning projects included:

These teams along with the top 10 finishers in each of the online design contests are invited to attend the Make It REAL Workshop hosted by mentors from the Kansas City Startup Foundation and KC SourceLink at the Kansas City Engineering Zone on May 31.

NOTE: Showcase event photos available for download here.


Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model. For more information, visit www.pltw.org

KC STEM Alliance is a collaborative network of educators, business affiliates and organizations that inspires interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers by supporting K-12 STEM education and programs. The KC STEM Alliance partners with organizations like Project Lead the Way that share the vision of creating a robust and sustainable regional STEM workforce. Learn more at www.kcstem.org