2019-20 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 you to design and recommend an innovation or process that will improve the lives of patients with cancer.  It is important that you focus on the patient, particularly those in low-income communities.  Using your knowledge of health literacy and discovering new knowledge from experts and patients, consider what you can do to find new or improved solutions that make an impact.  

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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.


Baxter international inc.

Baxter would like to hear from you, as the next generation of scientists and innovators to assist in the development of new technologies to improve patient health outcomes through nutrition and access to clean water. Select one of the following options and challenge yourself to think creatively about the possible solutions. 1. Pilot an innovation that focuses on nutrition as preventative care to address diabetes. 2. Create a home based or portable device that can be used to filter water used in PD solutions.

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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

Your challenge is to identify the most valuable use of location data technology and create a realistic solution for delivering that value to Caterpillar customers and workers. Your innovation should create a product or application that will positively impact the people, equipment, technology, and outcomes of a construction company, and could be feasibly marketed by Caterpillar Inc. RESTRICTIONS: In many situations, job sites do not have reliable connectivity 100% of the time. In addition, cell phones may be deemed a distraction on a job site. Please consider how your solution can navigate these challenges.


CME Group

Your task is to gain an understanding of the job opportunities that exist within the futures industry, focusing specifically on the wide range of technology careers at CME Group. After researching these opportunities, the students will build their own online educational resource for other students who may not have done such difficult research. Essentially, this is a “Futures Fundamentals” for careers in technology at CME Group. Your students will need to understand how the futures industry operates and build from there.



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.

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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

The 2020 Northrop Grumman challenge is to design and optimize a hovercraft that stresses good acceleration, top-end speed, maneuverability, and control with the ability to carry payloads to rescue operations with no damage or alterations to the payloads.


This could include a build of a functional hovercraft or prototype, which can be used with the countermeasure sensor(s) to detect hostile threats.

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As direct reports to Vistra Energy, your students are being asked to think of ways this coal ash, specifically the materials within the coal ash, can be used to benefit your community. Students will progress through the Challenge towards their solutions by collecting data about coal, coal byproducts, and how those are currently being used, if at all. Then, students should analyze those findings and summarize takeaways to advise their community (East St. Louis and Collinsville) on ways to use coal byproducts in a productive way. Their innovation should transform the way coal ash is used to make improvements to your surrounding area, which other communities can learn from.