NASA and NIA invite you and your students to participate in the 2018 Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge! The BIG Idea Challenge is a university-level design competition sponsored by the Game Changing Development Program (GCD) within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA).

The 2018 BIG Idea Challenge calls for teams of 3-5 students to submit robust proposals for innovations in the design, installation and sustainable operation of a large solar power system on Mars. This call for proposals is interested in novel concepts that emphasize innovative mechanical design, low mass and high efficiency, with viable operational approaches that assure sustained power generation on the Mars surface over the Martian year and during extended dust storms. The proposals should be 8-10 pages in length, accompanied by a 2-minute team video describing the team's BIG Idea.

The 2018 BIG Idea Challenge invites interested teams and their faculty advisors to work together to analyze innovations in the design, installation and sustainable operation of a large solar power system on the surface of Mars, in the following areas:

·    Novel packaging, deployment, retraction and dust-abatement concepts

·    Lightweight, compact components including booms, ribs, substrates and mechanisms

·    Optimized use of advanced ultra-lightweight materials and high efficiency solar cells

·    Validated modeling, analysis and simulation techniques

·    High-fidelity, functioning laboratory models and test methods

For your convenience, we have developed a printable flyer for the 2018 BIG Idea Challenge that contains full design guidelines and constraints, and is ideal for posting in classrooms and departmental bulletin boards. Interested teams are encouraged to review the flyer carefully. Full competition details, including design constraints and submission guidelines, can also be found on the BIG Idea Website (

Based on a review of the proposal and video submissions, four teams will be selected to submit full technical papers and present their concepts to a panel of NASA judges at the 2018 BIG Idea Forum, to be held March 5-6, 2018 at either the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA or the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH.

The final four qualifying teams will receive a $6,000 stipend to participate in the BIG Idea Forum. Student members from the winning team will receive offers to participate in paid summer internships at either NASA Glenn Research Center or NASA Langley Research Center, where they will continue further developing their concept under the mentorship of NASA experts.

Interested student teams and their faculty advisors must submit an online Notice of Intent by October 1, 2017 and submit proposals and videos by November 30, 2017.