2018-19 STEM Challenges

STEM Challenges are partnerships between industry and high schools which allow students to help solve authentic problems in the world today.  It is a research and design process that develops critical thinking and collaboration with peers and mentors.  Mentors from these organizations are working with students from ISTI's STEM Challenge partner schools over the course of the year to explore, create, and build innovative solutions. 



AbbVie Foundation

As neighbors and partners, the AbbVie Foundation would like your input into how to improve health literacy in the North Chicago Community. Your Challenge is to design and recommend an innovation or system that would improve health literacy and overall wellness in the North Chicago community.

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Allstate arity

The problem statement for students is to improve the efficiency and safety of everyday mobility. Think about how people move everyday - to and from locations by car, foot, bike, or public transportation, and what can make that experience unsafe, unpredictable, or inefficient. Thinks about people’s habits as they get from place to place. Using the data you collect, help Arity to create a safer and more secure situation and optimize transportation for all.



Astellas is challenging you to select one of the following exploratory focus areas  and  to  create  an  innovation  that  improves  the  patient  experience  of the selected area: Aiding Allergy Prevention; Advancing Cell Therapy (for  Eye  Diseases); or Tackling Muscle Diseases.


Baxter international inc.

Baxter would like to hear from you, as the next generation of scientists and innovators to either 1) Create or innovate a solution to address how developing countries receive supplies, train clinicians and patients, and use Baxter products. Consider such things as accessibility, environmental sustainability, infrastructure, culture, literacy, clean water, etc. or 2) Redesign a Baxter product to make it easier for patients to use at home. or 3) Create a community campaign around about how to prevent and treat kidney disease. Consider communities who are at a higher risk such as African American and Latino populations.

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Caterpillar - Chicago

CAT would like your help to shape the future of CAT’s business. You will choose an industry, a technology, and a business segment in order to identify and help solve a real problem they are facing. You will have to understand who CAT works with, current and emerging CAT technologies, and how CAT operates their business, both internally and externally. Your innovation should impact the people, equipment, technology, and outcomes of the company, and be feasibly marketed by Caterpillar Inc.


Caterpillar - peoria

Drive jobsite safety and efficiency into the hands of future workers by using your research and innovation to build, design, or adapt a way to manage how people are identified, monitored, and interact with equipment on the site. Your innovation should create a product or application that will impact the people, equipment, technology, and outcomes of a small to medium sized contractor (<100 pieces of large mobile equipment), and could be feasibly marketed by Caterpillar Inc.



Cisco is challenging you to make the future of public transportation more appealing. How can transportation systems be smarter, safer, more integrated, and more efficient? Help people get from place to place easier and faster so they can be more productive and  travel more efficiently. Research and analyze new and emerging technologies, such as  Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor technology. Consider the environment and the  landscape in order to improve upon or  redesign transportation systems.


CME Group

Your task is to gain an understanding of the basics of the futures industry business, the impact it has on individuals and the world, and how to spread this knowledge through new, innovative and engaging tools to support the educational outreach of Futures Fundamentals. Futures Fundamental prefers solutions to be interactive. Options could include, but are not limited to, a game, an app, a quiz or test, an innovative use of social media, or something where users can interact with one another. Focus your solution on one of three areas: futures and options, trade and risk management, or blockchain. 



Develop an innovation that improves digital equality at your high school. What technological advances, software, or devices would improve the educational experience so that students are prepared for today's workforce? Research Dell products and software, and advanced technology that exists today, to come up with a solution that either improves upon technology that currently exists or creates new technology to improve the learning experience for students at your high school.



Horizon is challenging you to understand the patient journey of those living with thyroid eye disease - the symptoms, the treatment, and the challenges associated with both - to develop an innovation that will improve the patient journey for this disease. The solution should be an app or a physical prototype.



As a direct report to IBM, use data analytics to solve an issue in your community. Gather information from the community/neighborhood, analyze trends found in the data, and then develop an innovative solution that will improve your community by making decisions and/or informing people in a more timely manner. You can utilize IBM's tools such as Watson to assist in research and decision making.


Illinois State University & Comed

Create a community of the future that uses renewable energy, smart meters, smart grids, and/or new innovative methods to create savings and sustainability for those living and working there.

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lenovo foundation

Create the smartphone of the future using your innovation to build, design, or adapt today’s current smartphone device. You can redesign the phone entirely, build or design your own Moto Mod to change the way the phone interacts with a user or an environment, or develop an app to enhance the phone’s capability.



As a direct report to Microsoft, you are being asked to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to solve a problem in your community. 

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MOTOROLA Solutions foundation

How can you help EMS responders reduce the amount of time it takes to collect all vital and necessary information and decrease the opportunities for error during and after the emergency call? In order to create an innovation to help solve this problem, you will need to understand the role of an EMS first responder, the technologies they currently use, and the challenges they still face.


Northrop Grumman Corporation

This year’s competition is inspired by Northrop Grumman’s unmanned aerial vehicle capabilities. High school teams will simulate a disaster relief effort by delivering payloads of food, water, and medicine to people stranded in a flood. Teams will operate a small drone / quadcopter and deliver payloads (represented by ping pong balls) to hit five targets throughout the course.


Takeda Pharmaceuticals

How can you, through the lens of a selected Takeda therapeutic area disease state, address and improve a challenge encountered by a patient in their treatment journey? Research and explore to better understand symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and the quality of life that patients face.

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Uptake is seeking your perspective about what they can learn about students, from students. Your Challenge is to use Student Union as a jumping off point to develop your own data and conclusions about what factors contribute to, and might help to predict future student success.