Become A Better Student Essay Competition

Student Essay & Video Contest

Students, tell us your story or share your perspective!

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) envisions widespread, inclusive, and equitable environments in engineering, academia, and industry that embrace individual differences and leverage diversity for a better engineered tomorrow. The 2017-2018 year celebrates ASEE's 125 years at the heart of engineering education. The ASEE Diversity Committee honors this celebration with a focus on diverse teams in engineering and engineering education, because teamwork is at the heart of engineering.

Students from a broad range of backgrounds and among various grade levels (P12, undergraduate, and graduate) are invited to share their perspective on diversity in engineering teams by submitting an entry into the essay and/or video contests. Each entry should clearly answer the prompt provided below and follow all contest rules.

Prompt & Requirements

Essay:

  • Prompt - Teamwork is an essential component of engineering, and diversity impacts the process and products of engineering teams. When people work together across differences in personal backgrounds, cultures, engineering disciplines, race, gender, age, and other characteristics, we can face new challenges and achieve better outcomes. Describe a time in your life when you worked on a diverse team in the context of engineering or engineering education. Discuss what you learned personally from the experience, what your team accomplished, and how diversity impacted your team.
  • 300 to 500 words
  • By submitting a written essay, contestants are agreeing for it to be reviewed by editors and to slight editorial changes, mainly for clarity, made by the ASEE Prism staff. These edits will be provided to the submitter prior to publication. Publication can be anonymous, but contact information is required for authentication and approval of edits.

Video:

  • Prompt - Teamwork is an essential component of engineering, and diversity impacts the process and products of engineering teams. When people work together across differences in personal backgrounds, cultures, engineering disciplines, race, gender, age, and other characteristics, we can face new challenges and achieve better outcomes. Create a video that describes a time in your life when you worked on a diverse team in the context of engineering or engineering education. Discuss what you learned personally from the experience, what your team accomplished, and how diversity impacted your team. This video should not be an advertisement for your organization.
  • 3-5 minutes
  • By submitting a video, contestants are agreeing for ASEE and its committees to use the video in any means they deem positive.

Eligibility Requirements & Contest Rules

  • Open to Preschool to 12th grade students and students enrolled in a college of engineering or engineering technology (or similarly named program) at the undergraduate or graduate levels
  • All videos and essays must be submitted by the submission deadline
  • All submissions must be original and not previously published elsewhere
  • By submitting an entry to the contest, each entrant gives ASEE all rights, including copyright, to the entry and express permission to edit and publish the entry in all media without limitation and without any other notice.
  • By submitting a written essay, contestants are agreeing for it to be reviewed by editors and to slight editorial changes, mainly for clarity, made by the ASEE Prism staff. Publication can be anonymous, but contact information is required for authentication and approval of edits.
  • By submitting a video, contestants are agreeing for ASEE and its committees to use the video in any means they deem positive

Prizes

Winners are selected by a group of reviewers from the ASEE Diversity Committee. Up to 3 awards will be given as prizes for the top submissions from all categories.
  • 1st Place: $275
  • 2nd Place: $150
  • 3rd Place: $70

Submission

Timeline:

November 20: Contest submission open
March 15: Submission deadline - EXTENDED
March 30: Submission review deadline
April 6: Winner notification deadline

Essay:

  • 300 to 500 words maximum
  • By submitting a written essay, contestants are agreeing for it to be reviewed by editors and to slight editorial changes, mainly for clarity, made by the ASEE Prism staff. These edits will be provided to the submitter prior to publication. Publication can be anonymous, but contact information is required for authentication and approval of edits.

Video:

  • 3-5 minutes maximum
  • By submitting a video, contestants are agreeing for ASEE and its committees to use the video in any means they deem positive.

Please click the button below to complete the essay and video submission form.


Click on the names of our winners to listen to, watch, or read their entries.

2016-2017 Winners

  • First Place - Sophie Paul (P12, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School) with her video, "Breaking Barriers"
  • Second Place - Maya Rozenshteyn (P12, Patrick Henry High School) with her essay, "A Club of Their Own"
  • Third Place - Katherine Kiang (Undergraduate, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign) with her essay, "Sugar, Flour, And Everything Nice "
  • 2015-2016 Winners


The essay competition was created to inspire students to explore connections between human rights and science, engineering and the health professions. Students may write on any topic at the intersection of science and/or technology with human rights.

The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Student Essay Competition is made possible by the AAAS-Andrew M. Sessler Fund for Science, Education, and Human Rights.

Past Winners:

2017

66 students from 32 different countries entered the competition. The essays covered a wide range of topics at the intersection of science of human rights, including reproductive technologies, food security, artificial intelligence, data privacy, and access to water.  The winners will be recognized at the July 27, 2017 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C. 


Graduate Student Winner
Miriam Aczel, Imperial College London 
Essay Title: "Fracking and Human Rights: Using a Rights-Based Framework to Regulate a New Technology"


Undergraduate Student Winner
Church Lieu, California State University – Los Angeles
Essay Title: "The Augmentation Gap"


Honorable Mentions
Kylie Orme, University of Utah
Essay Title: “Mr. Robot: Morality, AI, and Personhood” 

Elaine Huang, Lafayette College
Essay Title: "Doomed to Digital Dependence? Children in the Age of Persuasive Technology"


2016

42 students from 10 different countries entered the competition. The essays represented a wide range of scientific topics, including child psychology and development; personalized medicine; assistive technologies; food security; information technology; research ethics; environmental disasters; forensic science; and the place of ethnic, racial, and gender identity in scientific research. The winners were recognized at the July 2016 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Graduate Student Winner
Julie Fleischman, Michigan State University
Essay Title: “Skeletal Analysis after Crimes Against Humanity and Genocides: Implications for Human Rights”

Ms. Fleischman is an Anthropology doctoral student at Michigan State University.  She is completing her dissertation research on human remains from the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia; she is focusing on the skeletal injuries as well as how the remains are understood in contemporary Cambodian society.  Her primary research interests include forensic anthropology, human rights, and skeletal trauma. 


Undergraduate Student Winner
Tanner Rolfe, University of Dayton
Essay Title: “Living Water: A Catholic Social Teaching Perspective on PFOA and Human Rights”

Tanner is currently a junior at the University of Dayton majoring in mechanical engineering with an intended minor in mechanical systems. He has a special interest in applications of shape-changing mechanisms and is currently involved in undergraduate research focused on kinematic synthesis of variable geometry linkages. He says, "I love the design process: it allows me to express my creativity while giving me the opportunity to apply my skills in a practical and significant way.After graduation, he hopes to attend graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree in engineering, and aspires to one day earn PE licensure. 


Honorable Mention for Creativity and Originality
Priyanka Menon, Harvard University
Essay Title: “Mathematics and the Question of Human Rights”

Priyanka Menon graduated from Harvard College in 2016 with a B.A. in Mathematics and a secondary in History. She is primarily interested in the histories and theories of human rights, political violence, and civil disobedience.


2015

29 students from 8 different countries entered the competition. The essays represent a wide range of scientific topics: neuroscience, biology, ‘Big Data’, forensic anthropology, science policy, STEM education, wildlife ecology, environmental sustainability, sociology, medicine, global health, science ethics, stem cell research, materials engineering, crowd-sourcing, computer science, biotechnology, genetics, agricultural sciences, climate change, and information technology. The winners were recognized at the July 2015 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Graduate Student Winner
Wasima Khan, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Essay Title: "Profits, Medicine, and the Human Right to Health in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Educating (Future) Business Leaders"

Wasima Khan, J.D., is a PhD candidate in Corporate Law at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Wasima’s forthcoming dissertation focuses on how responsibilities toward distributive justice can be implemented in law, business, and society.


Undergraduate Student Winner
Lauren Y. Chan, Queen's University
Essay Title: “The Pursuit of Perfection? Fetal Genetic Screening"

Lauren is a first year medical student at Queen’s University in Canada, and was one of ten students accepted into the inaugural year of the Accelerated Route to Medical School program in 2013. She is passionate about scientific research and human rights, and hopes to incorporate global health into her future medical career.


Honorable Mentions
Jonah S. Rubin, University of Chicago
Essay Title: “Spain’s Laboratory of Hope and Dignity: Scientific Exhumations and the Making of Dead Citizens"

Neha Shah, Georgetown University
Essay Title: "The Structural Human Rights Violations of Malaria"


2014

53 students from eleven different countries entered the competition. Their essays covered almost as many topics, addressing human rights concerns connected to surrogacy, immunization, bio-technology, genetic tests, environmental health issues, and more. Many essays highlighted potential contributions of science and technology to protecting human rights, while others gave thoughtful consideration to ways in which human rights principles can inform scientific research and practice. The winners were recognized at the July 2014 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Graduate Student Winner
Wasiu Adedapo Lawal, The University of Texas at Arlington
Essay Title: "Water as a Friend and a Right"
Read the winning graduate essay.


Undergraduate Student Winner
Surabhi Chaturvedi, National Law Institute University, Bhopal
Essay Title: “Satellite Imagery in International Human Rights Litigation”
Read the winning undergraduate essay. 


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