The Innovation Challenge: Engineering with a Purpose is a hardware, cybersecurity, and software challenge where YOU will Innovate, Impact, and Build products and or services that will directly benefit underbanked or unbanked households within the United States, South America, and Mexico. 

  • According to the FDIC, there are 80 million Americans and 1.8 billion people around the world who remain underbanked or unbanked.
  • According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are 550,000 homeless individuals in America, and homelessness costs Americans $19.7B per year.
  • Cybersecurity is one of the hottest areas in tech. Gartner forecasts worldwide information security spending to exceed $124B by the end of 2019.

During this 48-hour event, teams of Builders, Programmers, Creators, and Engineers (all types welcome) along with technologists will create new product or service solutions to help the 1.8 billion people around the world have bank accounts and financial services, including 58 million Americans and the 20 million homeless individuals. 

Join us on October 30th at 6PM for this 48-hour “Engineering with a Purpose” Innovation Challenge that will empower YOU to use your STEM backgrounds to create new and innovative products and or services for the underbanked emerging market.

Submission guidelines will be published later in September.


The global smart city market is expected to grow to $1.565 trillion by 2020, and this growing economic opportunity inherently involves the opportunity to engage, inform, and improve the lives of citizens. For the 25% of people in U.S. cities who are aging or living with disabilities, these technologies must be built to deliver on better access and fuller participation in the life of their cities.

This year’s Hackathon challenges competitors to engineer and code with assistive technology, creating technology solutions that will directly benefit visually-impaired, wheelchair-bound, and others. During this event, teams of engineers (electrical, civil, structural, process) and technologists (developers, designers, project managers) are creating new solutions in these areas:

  • Walking Cane Replacement
  • Navigation for the Visually-Impaired
  • Curb Avoidance for Wheelchair-Bound
  • Sign Language Translate
  • Vision For Blind using Vision Tech, Sensors, and other Hardware

The participants’ job in this challenge is to create any solution involving software that helps address the concerns of one or more of the four stakeholders. Software solutions can take the form of mobile apps on either an iOS or Android platform, and/or web applications to be hosted on either Linux, Windows, or Mac servers.


  • The American Community Survey (ACS) estimates the overall rate of people with disabilities in the U.S. in 2015 was 12.6%, up from 11.9% in 2010.
  • In 2015, of those in the U.S. with disabilities, over half (51.1%) were people of working age (18-64).
  • 34.9% of people with disabilities in the U.S. ages 18-64 were employed compared to 76.0% for people without disabilities – a gap of 41.1%.
  • According to 2015 data, the median earnings of U.S. civilians with disabilities ages 16 and over was $21,572, about two-thirds of the median earnings of people without disabilities ($31,874).
  • More than one in five (21.2%) U.S. civilians with disabilities of working-age in 2015 were living in poverty, compared to 13.8% for those without disabilities.


  • Must be a registered attendee for the SHPE National Convention (Please note that this is not open to the general public).
  • Individuals must be 18 years and older
  • Teams of 3-6 individuals (You can come as part of a team or be placed in a team upon arrival. However, all submissions must come from a team of 3-6 individuals.)


    • Thursday, October 31, 3pm


First Place – $8,000
Second Place – $4,000
Third Place – $2,500
Fourth Place – $1,000



Executive Summary
Participants should start working on what they want to build for their submissions. This should be a very brief summary about what the program should be able to do, and how it will benefit different parties involved. Be sure to include: team name, product name, and the full name, school, and major for each team member.

Teams should go into more detail about the design of the project. This should include (but is not limited to): Platform, workflow for the application, list of projected challenges, mockups, etc.

  • This must include a mockup of the platform architecture and a mockup of the proposed user interface.  These may be sketched by hand or digitally.
  • Upload a PNG, GIF or JPG of your system architecture (can be informal – a hand-drawn sketch is fine)
  • Upload a PNG, GIF or JPG with a sketch (or draft screenshot) of the expected user interface of the system you are building (again, can be informal – hand-drawn is fine)
  • All groups should also create a list of deliverables they intend to complete by the end of each stage, and who will own each task

Team Lead
The main liaison for the group to the mentors, judges, and sponsors. Please identify this person and notify [email protected] with the name and email of your team lead. Based on the skillset and interests of the group, there should be a clear owner for each area of the process.


Friday 9am 
The top 8 teams will present their projects on Friday morning. These final presentations will be evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5 by the panel of judges, and the audience will also vote for their favorite.

Presentation Outline (4 minutes)


  • Quick introduction of everyone on the team
  • Who was this developed for
  • What was the problem & solution


  • Demonstrate the features that work
  • Talk about the platform and design strategy used

Next Steps

  • Talk about future features that could be implemented with more time
  • Talk about the challenges the project might face
  • Talk about the impact the application could have

Q&A (4 minutes)

  • The judges and audience will have time to ask questions about the application and the process.
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