Do you feel the desire to address a worldwide issue but you don't know where to start?

The ACerS President's Council of Student Advisors (PCSA) wants to bring students and non-profit organizations together to benefit global communities. The technical knowledge that you have attained in school can have an incredible impact for underserved communities.

The PCSA is hosting a competition for you to pitch your ideas to a panel of judges about how you can address a challenge that a community is experiencing. By utilizing your material engineering background, you should aim to show how improved materials/processes will benefit the community that is in need.

Humanitarian Pitch Competition Rules

  • Teams of up to 4 students may submit a topic and present it at MS&T20 Virtual. Both undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to participate.
  • The pitch must adhere to the following theme:
    Utilizing Local & Sustainable Materials for Improved Infrastructure
  • Presentations should be no shorter than 8 minutes and no longer than 10 minutes in length.
  • Students are expected to define a community in need, propose a solution using materials engineering, plan a budget surrounding that solution, and provide a plan for implementation.
  • Your team will be asked to present at MS&T20 Virtual via a recorded presentation. At least one member of your team must be available to answer questions during the competition judging (date and time TBD). 
  • Abstracts will need to be submitted by the deadline shown below.


MS&T20 will now be held virtually and will take place from November 2-6, 2020!

Additional event details will be available soon. Visit the MS&T20 website in the coming weeks for information on how to register. You may also sign up for event updates!

Your team will need to put together a pitch that includes the following items.

Describe a specific community/need

  • Make note of what part of the world you will be focusing on, and the community of people you hope to impact with this technology.
  • Specify the problem that the community is facing.
  • Address the reason why this is an important problem that needs to be solved.
  • Need help thinking of some specific problems to solve? See examples below:
    • Toilets/sustainable waste management
    • Clean water
    • Roadways
    • Energy management (microgrids)
    • Cooking/food storage
    • Communication to rural areas
    • And many others

Propose a technical solution to the problem

  • This solution should focus on materials. Can be a new product or an innovation to an existing product.
  • Describe how the solution would work technically, and note if there are similar products in the market.
  • Make note of current research/publications that could back up your claim, if available.
  • Include what resources/infrastructure will be necessary to implement the solution into the community.
  • Address the following longevity issues: Is it sustainable? Will they be able to keep using this technology after a long period of time? What about maintenance?

Provide a budget

If you were pitching this to investors, this would be information that they would want to know!

  • Put together a list of expected expenses. This can be a rough estimate.
  • Include information regarding how the technology will be funded. Will it be donated? Will the community have to come up with a portion of the money?

Create an implementation plan

  • Explain how you will bring this solution to a developing area and how many team members will need to take part.
  • Describe the implementation timeline.
  • Address sustainability: Will your solution be sustained by the community, or will an outside group need to ensure that it has a lasting impact?

ABstract submission DEADLINE is october 12, 2020. Submit your ABstract today!


How to compete

  1. Submit your team's abstract below
  2. Present your 8-10 minute pitch via recorded presentation at MS&T20 Virtual. At least one member of your team must be available to answer questions during the competition judging (date and time TBD).
  3. Review the competition scoresheet with your team.

Please contact the PCSA External Partnerships Committee Chair, Andrew Jacobs for more information.

The PCSA Humanitarian Pitch Competition gives you the chance to solve real world issues with material science.

Experience as described by Kim Gliebe, 2019-2020 PCSA delegate

I travelled to Sabana Grande Nicaragua for ten days. While there I stayed with a host family along with one other member of the group of eighteen students that participated. We spent the first two days working on constructing a solar cooker, which uses the sun and reflectors to heat food that is under a pane of glass.

According to National Geographic, "The typical cooking fire produces about 400 cigarettes’ worth of smoke an hour, and prolonged exposure is associated with respiratory infections, eye damage, heart and lung disease, and lung cancer." Therefore, having a cost effective alternative to a typical wood fired stove can increase the standard of living for billions of people.

solar cooker

Please contact us with any additional questions. We're looking forward to hearing your pitches!


1st place - $500
2nd place - $250
3rd place - $150
4th place - $100

Cash prizes sponsored by: