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About the IDEAS Competition

IDEAS:  Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action, ServiceWhat is the IDEAS Competition?
The IDEAS Competition is an annual public service competition that provides an opportunity for members of the MIT community to develop creative ideas for projects that make a positive change in the world—locally, nationally or internationally. Participants work in teams and with community partners to develop a feasible, innovative, and effective solution to a real community problem or need.

How does it work?
IDEAS entries are judged on their innovation, feasibility and community impact. The IDEAS Competition is open to everyone, but at least 1/3 of each team must be comprised of full-time MIT students and MIT students must have made a significant contribution to the innovation. Teams can create at will -- all possibilities and types of solutions are welcome. Winning teams will receive up to $8000 to allow them to make their idea a reality!

IDEAS provides a system to support participants as they develop their ideas and projects:

Initial proposals, development grant requests and feedback sessions
Teams may submit an initial proposal on the 15th of each month, through March 2010. Teams will receive constructive feedback and advice from IDEAS staff to help them improve their projects and prepare a final proposal. The earlier teams submit an initial proposal, the more opportunities there will be to get feedback and strengthen it for the final submission! Teams may also take advantage of Development Grants that can help to develop their idea and prepare for the final proposal to judges. Complete directions for proposal submission can be here: http:// web.mit.edu/ideas/www/submit.htm

Final proposals, poster and judging sessions
Final proposals are due on April 15, 2010 and teams present their projects to judges during a poster and judging session on April 26, 2010.

Winner’s retreat
Winners are announced at an awards ceremony on May 3, 2010 and winning teams then attend a two-day retreat later in May to define their goals and plans for implementation. Teams have a year to spend their award money.

The IDEAS Competition seeks to motivate, nurture and celebrate student innovation as a tool for change in the world. The competition is the MIT Public Service Center’s call to action that aims to incentivize collaboration between students, the global MIT community and communities in need. Matching community partners with student talent, the IDEAS Competition highlights MIT’s commitment to public service and demonstrates its support of student innovation and enterprise.

The idea for a public service competition was developed by Amy Smith of the MIT Edgerton Center and Sally Susnowitz of Public Service Center in 2001. Since it’s inception, over 1300 people have participated in the competition and 58 teams have won awards for their ideas.

The IDEAS Competition has sparked projects that have grown far beyond MIT. Since 2001, IDEAS participants have leveraged more than $2.2 million in follow-on funding and IDEAS projects have been carried out in more than 20 countries, serving the needs of thousands of people.

IDEAS Volunteer Staff

The IDEAS Volunteer Staff help teams to turn their ideas into great community service projects. The staff are also able to enter the competition. Joining the IDEAS staff is a great way to use your skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world.

IDEAS Volunter Staff:

  • Plan IDEAS events
  • Run our publicity campaigns
  • Create publicity materials
  • Direct our media, mentor, or community relations
  • Evaluate our programs
  • Organize our materials and resources
  • Or simply help out where needed

We'd love to see you at our weekly meetings! Contact ideas-admin@mit.edu to find out the time and location!:

Staff can be MIT undergraduates, grad students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends of the Institute. The Competition is growing, and we always welcome new faces!

IDEAS mentors and judges

When students attempt to tackle real world problems, they often seek guidance from more experienced people. Anyone with experience in business, engineering, science, development and/or community service can become a mentor. Mentoring an IDEAS team is a great opportunity to give guidance to young people with a desire to help those in need, make good use of your connections, and make a contribution to local and international communities. If you are an alumnus or member of the MIT community, this is a great opportunity to give back to MIT.

Each year IDEAS seeks judges with deep knowledge and experience in a wide spectrum of areas to review and judge team submissions. If you are interested in finding out more and being a potential judge, please contact ideas-admin@mit.edu.