What does it mean to fail? Is failure a final verdict or an opportunity for improvement? We believe failure is at the heart of great innovation. As teams work to construct their devices and prepare for our final event on April 12 and 13 they will experience failure, an integral part of The Tech Challenge. Often the first design doesn't work as planned or worse doesn't work at all and teams put in hours of work to modify and re-test until they are satisfied with their solutions. While many teams will meet the challenge with ease by our final event, other teams may fall short of the end result they desired but the heart of The Tech Challenge is the creativity, inspiration, and the entrepreneurial spirit that brings students of all skill levels together to showcase the hard work and dedication that they have devoted to solving a real problem in their community. Every year we are wowed by the amazing creations of our young innovators!
To honor their journey and to encourage perseverance we give a variety of awards one of which is called Most Spectacular Failure. I am often asked by outsiders if teams view this award negatively. In the words of one of our head judges, "getting this award is seen as a badge of honor." In many ways Most Spectacular Failure is central to what we stand for as a program and reminds us of others who were not afraid to fail like Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Marilyn Monroe, Thomas Edison and Oprah Winfrey.
At its most fundamental level engineering design is about learning to think critically and working to solve problems, life skills that will serve students well in any future endeavors. It teaches them that what they do with failure -- how they handle it and how they channel it -- is more important than whether or not things go as planned. We know that when you fail you learn. Now take that knowledge and make the world better!