Prize suggestions for college engineers
May 6, 2013 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Several teams of engineering students are giving presentations. The class will vote for the winning teams. What kind of prizes can I give?

I only have a budget of $150 or $200, and there will be (4) 1st place winners from a single team, (4) 2nd place winners and (4) third place winners. I did see this link which suggests candy as a prize, but I need something more significant. Please help! In the past prizes have been socket and ratchet sets, and screwdriver sets, but don't think they were liked very much. Thank you! You guys never let me down.
posted by dublin to Education (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I should add that I cannot buy gift cards per dept policy.
posted by dublin at 10:01 AM on May 6, 2013


I once gave a Chemical Engineering PhD candidate a Playmobil Hazmat team when she passed her defense. She seemed to really like it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:07 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

We run an annual competition to build a device, best performance gets the team name on a trophy which is kept on display in the department. We try to make a thing of it so its an annual event. Could you do anything like that?
posted by biffa at 10:07 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Arduino or Raspberry Pi stuff.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:08 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

What sort of engineers? Mixed groups?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:11 AM on May 6, 2013

My first thought was also a small Lego or Plamobil set, so I see Genji and I are on the same wavelength.

1st place could each get a small set
2nd place could each get a single thing (like a car or building or something I guess)
3rd place could each get a minifigure (like the mad scientist or something, he's cute)
posted by phunniemee at 10:16 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Star Wars lego? A year's subscription to Wired Magazine? Movie passes? iTunes gift cert?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:28 AM on May 6, 2013

Since they're engineering students, I bet they would love prizes from Thinkgeek. I linked to a page that lets you sort items by price or interest.
posted by capricorn at 10:28 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:31 AM on May 6, 2013

They are biomedical engineering students.

Thanks for the thoughts, please keep them coming! I'm investigating all input. Some like Arduino are too $$, unfortunately. Also, if I can buy them in town I will otherwise Amazon Prime options...turnaround timei is critical. Yes I waited too long.
posted by dublin at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2013

Trophies, no matter how ridiculous, are pretty great. I have one here for a trivia challenge that has the proper name and year of the event, but it's obviously from Pinewood Derby. Check out your local Goodwill or St. Vinnie's, or just cobble a bunch of stuff together and spray it gold. I think I still have my Golden Spoon award from my high school drama club.

Otherwise, yeah -- ThinkGeek.
posted by Madamina at 10:43 AM on May 6, 2013

How big are the teams?
posted by oceano at 10:48 AM on May 6, 2013

Four winners per team, prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
posted by dublin at 10:55 AM on May 6, 2013

How about some inspiration from American Science & Surplus? Multicolored Pens or magnets, perhaps?
posted by oceano at 11:19 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

BME, I wouldn't do electronics stuff.

Things that are in the right price range that the BME students I know would like:

Lab coats, maybe with something funny written on the pocket. Or nice-quality safety glasses.
Pocket knife/leatherman/etc mini tool things.
Posters--anatomical, or periodic table, or Krebs cycle.
Kids science things that are fun for adults too, like sunprint kits.
Plushie microbes
School-branded t-shirts, pencils, what-have-you.

And nth'ing ThinkGeek, if you can get stuff in time.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:10 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bragging rights are a low cost and fun prize for first place holders. If you can grab a corner of your department where a multi-year plaque or even a photo display can exist, that would be fun. Each year, the #1s gets their names added to the plaque or their photo goes into the display.

Other cheap/free to you perks would be getting to park on campus for free for a day/week or allow the #1 students to present their work at whatever regularly occurring symposium there might be. The 2,3 and 4 could get mentioned at the symposium.

You could also get some funny USB drives. I'm currently using one that looks like Lisa Simpson that I got at Staples. I've also seen them at places like Urban Outfitters (that store also has a whole knick knack section with geeky toys, if you get desperate and there's one close to you). If your budget is roughly $16 per person that might be doable.
posted by dottiechang at 12:28 PM on May 6, 2013

Can you scrounge up some cool department swag like t-shirts, hats or mugs, obviously not stuff that all the students get at orientation or whatever but maybe stuff that's leftover from conferences or events. You could let teams get their pick in order of who won. If you find something neat, it would be more memorable than a generic prize.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 4:39 PM on May 6, 2013

The best prize I have ever gotten from an engineering class competition was a leather portfolio stamped with the department logo--it's served me well at career fairs and interviews.
posted by thack3r at 1:50 AM on May 7, 2013

a leather portfolio stamped with the department logo
This! I used one for nearly 10 years before the seal popped off the front (about 5 years after the notepad ran out of paper).

I also like the whimsy of the plush microbes and Lego.
posted by whatzit at 3:31 AM on May 7, 2013

Thank you, I was able to pull together trophies. You guys are great!!!
posted by dublin at 8:58 AM on May 7, 2013

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