Executive Insights

The 2023 Altair Global Student Contest: Having Fun While Learning

By Jim Ryan | VP, Global Academic Program | June 21, 2023

Student contests intended for educational purposes have been around since the dawn of time – that’s because they help teachers assess how well students have mastered the tools and skills they’ve been taught. As such, educational contests are essentially another form of testing, but they are intended to be a bit more enjoyable – especially when they give students the chance to celebrate their personal achievements, receive external recognition, and win prizes for their work. 


Why is Altair Hosting the Global Student Contest? 

At Altair, we are strong advocates of project-based learning (PBL) that empowers students to be real-world ready. By demonstrating their readiness and showcasing their skills, our students can stand out from the crowd and secure their dream jobs. At the same time, the Altair Global Student Contest helps employers find and hire the qualified talent they are seeking. 

We are also striving to motivate and reward students to go above and beyond their usual degree program work – and let them humblebrag about their accomplishments, especially when they talk with potential employers.

Moreover, the Global Student Contest is intended to complement the global third-party-hosted student competitions we also support – such as Formula Student or Mars Rover – where students use Altair technology to design better products, faster!


How Does the Altair Global Student Contest Work?

We enhanced our annual contest in multiple ways. Students can select any project that inspires them – provided they optimize some part’s topology. Then we ask that they submit a short video describing their project. The contest awards monetary prizes every month in all three major geographic regions (North/South America, Europe-Middle East-Africa, and Asia-Pacific). And at the end, from among our monthly winners, we will award a grand prize winner – to the tune of $7,500!

The contest will be active for 12 consecutive months from May 2023-April 2024. This unique approach is intentional; we realize that, around the world, students are in different programs at different universities – as such, they have different schedules throughout the year. We are striving to make the contest flexible so students can participate from anywhere at anytime – whenever is convenient for them. 

Additionally, many faculty who teach courses featuring Altair topology optimization software such as Altair® Inspire™ or Altair® OptiStruct® teach at different times of the year. These faculty members have told us they especially appreciate this added flexibility because it ensures their students will be able to submit their course projects and still compete for prizes whenever their courses end. 

We are also inviting any student teams using Altair’s topology optimization technology in third-party-hosted competitions to submit the results of their work anytime.


Why is Topology Optimization a Focus for the Altair Global Student Contest? 

While the topic for our contest will likely change every year, this year we chose to focus on topology optimization. We want to allow the maximum number of students to show us what they know. And because Altair’s topology optimization software has been available for decades, hundreds of courses are taught with it and dozens of student competition teams also use it. Because of this, we expect many students will be ready to hit the ground running when participating in this contest. 

Topology optimization is also a timely technology that contributes to global sustainability objectives. Sustainability through lightweighting positively impacts the environment in so many ways – from industries like aerospace and automotive, to the latest trends like electrification. And advancements in 3D printing and additive manufacturing now make it possible to design complex shapes that are produced by topology optimization, which was not always feasible in the past. 

To that end, this contest is a natural, academic-focused extension of our annual Altair Enlighten Award – which showcases the latest innovations in topology optimization and lightweighting.

Whether you call it topology optimization or generative design, Altair has been a leader in this technology from the beginning. Click here to read a recent report from ABI Research that crowns Altair as the top supplier for generative design software.


What's Next?

Given the excitement around data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, the topic of our 2024 Global Student Contest will likely focus on these areas – especially given Altair’s thought-leadership regarding the convergence of engineering simulation and data science.

Additionally, anyone can register to get our free educational edition of Altair® RapidMiner® software for non-commercial purposes. Furthermore, users can leverage the RapidMiner Academy to help with data analytics, AI, and machine learning-related needs (including free certification). Also consider enrolling in one of the numerous massively open online courses (MOOCs) involving the use of Altair RapidMiner which are readily accessible on platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, edX and more.