2012-2013 Challenge Announced,  Zero-G Experiments fly through DreamUp, Students Travel to Rio +20, U.S STEM Solutions Summit, New Conrad Foundation CEO!

Teenagers Worldwide Invited to Innovate

Commercially-viable Products, Services

6th annual Spirit of Innovation Challenge continues its quest to transform STEM education


Houston (Aug. 29, 2012) – Today, Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, officially launched the 2012-2013 Spirit of Innovation Challenge. This program encourages students from around the world, ages 13 - 18 to create products to solve global challenges for the benefit of humanity. For the last five years, the Conrad Challenge has given context to content and helped transform the way science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are being used and understood by students.


Beginning Aug. 29 through Oct. 24, student teams are invited to submit one-page abstracts detailing their innovations. Thecompetition encompasses four challenge categories: Aerospace and Aviation, Cybertechnology and Security, Energy and Environment, and Health and Nutrition.


“We believe young people have the skills and the desire to develop solutions to benefit humanity,” Conrad said. “By giving them a way to demonstrate their knowledge and access to mentors who can explain the application of that knowledge, we provide context to the content they learn in the classroom. This is the only competition of its kind to combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship, to give students the tools they need to succeed and sustain our knowledge-based economy.”


The Conrad Challenge does not identify a specific problem; rather, the students create an innovation that is interesting to them and is of value to humanity. Participation is free and open to all students around the globe and uses an online community to facilitate student, teacher and mentor collaboration. Supporting the program is a robust online library and a network of world-renowned scientists, engineers, academics and business leaders who assist students in developing their ideas.


Selected semi-finalists in each challenge category develop a business plan, technical plan and graphical representation of the team’s product or innovation. The top five teams from each category will travel to the Conrad Foundation’s annual Innovation Summit, hosted at NASA-Johnson Space Center, April 10 – 13, 2013, where they present their innovations and vie for $10,000 next-step grants and commercialization opportunities.


“It has been our experience students excel when given the chance to be creative and collaborate with peers who share their interests. As a result, every year we receive entries that demonstrate young people possess the capability to imagine and bring to fruition changes that will benefit humanity,” said Jennifer Fotherby, executive director, Spirit of Innovation Challenge.


During the last five years, the Conrad Challenge supported the conceptualization of more than 350 innovative products and services. A sampling of team products include: cooling technology for astronaut space suits; water filtration devices for use in underdeveloped nations; and, a method for using ballet to improve the quality of life of autistic children. Currently, more than 20 percent of student innovations are in development.


Students, parents and teachers are invited to create profiles in the online community at For more information about the program, contact the Spirit of Innovation Challenge at info (at)




Carrie Taylor

Conrad Foundation

(281) 245-3361

Need to experiment in Zero-G? Then, DreamUp!
Some valuable science experiments can’t be done on Earth simply because we can’t “turn off” gravity. That’s no longer a problem for  our newest program, DreamUp. Co-hosted with NanoRacks LLC, DreamUp is the first program to use American Express® Membership Rewards® points to fund student experiments to the International Space Station (ISS).
DreamUp is open to junior high, high school and undergraduate college students from accredited U.S. schools. Students have access to NanoRacks’ two standardized research platforms aboard the ISS (also known as NanoLabs), each of which supports 16 experiments or payloads, housed in small containers. Each NanoLab is plugged into the ISS’ power and communications system by a NASA astronaut. This opportunity offers students an awesome chance to test scientific theories in the unique zero gravity environment. It’s the ultimate “plug and play.”
Click here to explore the DreamUp program and learn more about the unique fundraising opportunity through the American Express Members Give program.

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Conrad Challenge students to attend Rio+20 global conference next week 
Shayanth Sinnarajah and Lucia Herrmann, along with their coach, Claude Charron, will represent team Operation Gulliver International during the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The team won the Clean Energy category of the 2012 Conrad Challenge by developing LiTReS, a portable filtration system that removes bacteria, pathogens and viruses from disease-spreading water. The self-sustainable device solely uses renewable energy and is excellent for use in developing countries or those hit by natural disasters.
The students will present their product at the U.S. Department of State’s U.S. Center at 9:30 a.m. EDT, Sunday, June 17. The presentation will be available for live viewing on Ustream at with live updates on Twitter at @UN_Rioplus20 and #Rioplus20.

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Welcome Ross Shott, our new CEO
There’s a new face around the Conrad Foundation offices. Ross Shott, a 25-year management professional, has joined the Foundation as the new CEO. He will provide day-to-day oversight of the organization, as well as establish collaborative relationships with other education, entrepreneurial and corporate entities committed to excellence in education and achieving global sustainability.
Ross came to the Foundation from Singularity University at NASA Research Park at Moffett Field, CA, where he worked as the director of executive relations. While at SU, he helped train future leaders and developed entrepreneurial teams to innovate solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges. Throughout his career, he has worked with groups and companies ranging from five members to 8,000 employees. His unique blend of foresight, education and strategic experience is a dynamic asset to our organization. Welcome Ross.

Join us at U.S. News STEM Solutions 2012
We're excited to announce Nancy Conrad is one of the co-chairs of the U.S. News STEM Solutions 2012 conference ( The event takes place in Dallas this June 27-29. Please join the change makers, thought leaders and visionaries who are shaping our economy’s future. Explore solutions and successes in STEM education as the pathways to jobs, the corporations, educators and top policy makers.

A special rate is provided to friends, champions and partners  of the Conrad Foundation. Visit http://usnewsstemsolutions.
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