Reverse Engineering

Reverse Engineering icon for STEM Expo

Please note: We are in the process of updating our Category Descriptions and Rubrics for STEM Expo 5  (March 7, 2015) - these should be updated by December 1, 2014.



Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a
device, object, or system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation.
It often involves taking something (e.g., a mechanical device or electronic component)
apart and analyzing its workings in detail to be used in maintenance.


A successful Reverse Engineering entry must have the following:

  • Locate and acquire two similar mechanical products (ie: toasters)
  • Disassemble one product, then mount and label all components
  • Description paper explaining operation and functionality of all components - can include illustrations and/or images

Additional judging will be based on the following:

  • Product is mechanical or electrical in nature, contains several major components, made from a variety of materials
  • Project scope is reasonable and allows for disassembly to adequate levels
  • Operation of assembled unit is explained
  • Product has properly been disassembled to represent all components and all have been labeled
  • Parts are described adequately and descriptions are accurate
  • Function of each part is identified and correct
  • Component parts are located to assembled unit correctly
  • Components are identified into sub-assembly groups by purpose (or location)
  • Layout of parts vs. assembled unit is clear and promotes understanding of location and purpose
  • Project is defined and organized
  • Visual Aids promote understanding
  • Descriptive Paper
  • Overall unit, and operation of unit is described
  • Each Sub-assembly (by purpose or location) is described and defined
  • Each component is described adequately, material of composition is identified,  and it’s function is explained
  • Shows that the student grasps the purpose of the components and sub-assemblies, and how they work together.
  • The project shows completeness of thought and cause and effect within the product are clearly explained
  • The product is a real world item who’s operation is not generally well understood
  • High degree of complexity, or difficult disassembly process required
  • Assembly/Disassembly methodology is presented and documented