The MIT Mechanical Engineering
De Florez Award Competition
Thursday May 11th, 2023

2023 Competition Winners

Undergraduate Science & Design:

1st prize:

  • Emma K. Rutherford, Alexander Zhang, and Maaya Prasad : "Design of a High-Speed Underwater Camera Housing"

2nd prize:

  • Benjamin Owen-Block : "Mechanical Seven-Segment Display Clock"

3rd Prize:

  • Aaron Becker and Levi Gershon: "Design and Packaging of an In-Wheel Planetary Gearbox for a Formula Student Race Car"

Graduate Design:

1st prize:

  • Andrew L. SaLoutos and Elijah Stanger-Jones: "Design of a Multimodal Fingertip Sensor for Dynamic Manipulation"

2nd prize:

  • Swathi Manda: "Enabling Protein Sensing with DNA nanopore based bioelectronics"

3rd Prize:

  • Elijah Stanger-Jones & Andrew L. SaLoutos: "Design of a Highly Dynamic Humanoid Robot"

Graduate Science:

1st prize:

  • Krishna Manoj: "Why CRISPR-based Genetic Circuits Fail to Scale: Resource-Competition"

2nd prize:

  • Wenhui Tang: "Emergence of Order on Growing Multicellular Spheres"

3rd Prize:

  • Bianca Champenois: "Multi-fidelity Framework for 3D Temperature Reconstruction from Reanalysis Data and Real-Time Satellite and Buoy Surface Measurements"

The de Florez awards are given to Course 2 students demonstrating "Outstanding Ingenuity and Creative Judgment" in areas that utilize mechanical engineering knowledge or practice.
The 2023 award purse is $25,000, with individual prizes up to $2,500.
We invite entries from undergraduate students/teams and graduate  students/teams.      



Engineering Design

Use MechE principles/practices to synthesize and create an ingenious design. This could be a piece of software, a new machine element, a process, a new circuit, a testing apparatus or technique, a robot, a consumer product, etc. A working, realized design is mandatory; you must have created it, and you must show or demonstrate this.

Engineering Science

Discover or generate new scientific understanding or principles key to advancing the practice of MechE, for example a theoretical model, or a numerical solution technique. You must state how your innovation will contribute to the field, and show proof that your understanding/principles are correct. This contest is not for early stage 'ideas' about new understanding/theory/principles.

The Contest Organizers and Judges value and aim to recognize outstanding innovation in both areas.


Due Wednesday, April 12th, 11:59 pm

Application to the competition is now closed. The instructions below are kept for reference

Please complete this google form. Teams should submit one form under the leader's name; the form should indicate all of the team members, in the space provided.

Required Information

  • Full name(s)
  • Permanent address, phone, and email (leader only for teams)
  • Project title and description.
  • Confirmation that you will demonstrate a working prototype in-person or via video, or offer compelling evidence that your new theory or principle is correct (exceptions may be made for unusual cases).
  • Indicate whether you will be submitting in the undergraduate or graduate category and in the design or science category.


The contest is open to MIT Mechanical Engineering students enrolled in one of our full-time SB, MS, MEM, LGO, Engineer's, or PhD programs, including the WHOI Joint Program.  Visiting students are not eligible. Your team size should be no more than three. If your project is an outcome of work done within a larger group, several special steps are required: 1) The poster must acknowledge all the team members, no matter how small their evident role, and 2) We must receive (via email), by the application date, a statement from each of the broader team members, giving the applicants permission to enter this contest, and confirming that they themselves are not part of the presentation. Questions should be addressed to Prof. van Rees at

Once Accepted

Accepted applications will be announced on Wednesday, April 19th, and a poster template will be provided at that time. Each contestant must prepare a PDF of their poster and submit it to Lisa Maxwell ( via email by Wednesday, May 3rd, at 11:59 pm. This poster is required! We will have your poster printed, mounted, and delivered to the competition. You cannot print your own poster.      

THE COMPETITION - The Bush Room 10-105

Thursday, May 11th, 2:30PM - 4:30PM

Competition Schedule

2:00PM - 2:30PM:  Set-Up Time   - Students set-up all demonstrations at their stations.

2:30PM - 4:30PM:    Presentation Time - Judges will be circulating.

4:30PM - 5:30PM:    Judge's Conference / Breakdown of presentations & tables


You will be allotted a half table (~30in x 36in) and/or appropriate floor space, as well as space for your poster. Additionally you should use whatever you feel best gets your point across; if you have a short slideshow (no more than 5 slides), bring your own computer.

For Design Projects

Demonstrate a working prototype of your entry in-person, or via video.

For Science Projects

Show proof that your understanding/principles are correct.

Ultimately, the judges want you to be clear on what your contribution/innovation is and why it is important.  A panel of faculty/graduate students will decide the winners.


MARCH 1889 - NOVEMBER 1962
Admiral Luis de Florez, a 1911 MIT graduate, established a trust to support awards to recognize students for "outstanding ingenuity and creative development." Each year, four awards are given in Course 2 and one is given in Course 16. Luis de Florez was influential in the development of early flight simulators.

He received:
  • The 1943 Collier Trophy One of the most prestigious awards for aeronautical achievement in the United States for his work in training combat pilots and flight crews.
  • The Legion of Merit in June 1945

Admiral de Florez was the first director of technical research at the CIA. The main building complex at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division is named after him. Admiral de Florez died in 1962.

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