Invention & Reverse Engineering

Invention & Reverse Engineering Logo

Definition:

The Invention & Reverse Engineering category involves the 
understanding of how things work together in either a 
creative or evaluative manner. Reverse Engineering is to
take something apart and analyze its workings, 
while Invention involves creating something new. Both 
aspects focus on a product that solves a specific problem 
or need.
Be sure to read the general rules and requirements (available here) the full category description document (available here) which contains generic information applicable to all categories, and the rubric for the category (available here). 

PERTINENT INFORMATION AND DEFINITIONS

This category focuses on the exploration of problem solving in the physical world. Invention and Reverse Engineering are two faces of the same subject. In both cases the project creator must learn or define how something works. The category is specifically focused on physical devices and products.

PROJECT SCOPE

The projects in this category must describe what problem is being solved. They must also show how the project’s device solves the problem.

A Reverse Engineering project will have enough complexity to allow the student to gain an understanding of how something works, in detail, without being overwhelming.

An Invention project may be simpler than an equivalent Reverse Engineering project because the invention itself may be something simple that no one else has yet created.

PROJECT DISPLAY AND DESCRIPTION

A successful project display will include the following:

  • A description of the use of the device, and the benefits associated.
  • A complete ‘mock-up’, prototype, or construction of all or part of the device. If this is an invention this is the key physical portion of the project
  • A disassembly of the completed device showing the components and/or subcomponents with a description of their purpose and how they work. If this is a reverse engineering project, this is the key physical portion, and these pieces are expected to be the centerpiece of the display. If an invention, this portion may consist of photographs, drawings, or textual descriptions of the components (and sub-components, if any) of the device.
  • A description of the tools (simple or complex), methods, and sequences required in the construction or deconstruction. 

Marketing material is often key in describing a product or device and its inclusion is appreciated and recognized.

ENTRY, REVIEW, AND JUDGING

Judging will include an interview period and potential additional views of the project display. Judges will use an understanding of the category, this document, the rubric, and the general rules in their evaluations. Please review these documents for other items that may be considered.

WHAT WILL BE JUDGED

  • General rules and judging criteria
  • Overall device clearly described including what it is, how it would be used, and its benefits
  • Preparation and display of the components or subcomponents of the original object
  • The accuracy of explanation of components and overall operation
  • The understanding of the device, how it works, and how it was built

ADDITIONAL ITEMS THAT WILL AFFECT THE REVIEW AND JUDGING CONCLUSIONS

  • Research on similar products or processes
  • If an invention, how well it addresses a real-world need, and its practicality in size, cost, materials, etc.
  • Any unique or innovative methodologies or concepts that were used or understood