Due to maintenance on our xTech website, we have extended the xTechHBCU Student competition deadline to 5 pm ET, November 14, 2023. Submit your innovative idea today. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!
The U.S. Army would like to invite eligible Historically Black College and University students to participate in the xTechHBCU Student competition. xTechHBCU Student is a forum for students to engage with the Department of Defense, earn prize money, participate in a unique accelerator program, and potentially have an opportunity to develop a prototype for their designed solutions as final winners of the competition. The competition finals will be held at or around the 2024 Black Engineer of the Year Awards STEM Conference from Feb. 15-17, 2024.
The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology recognizes that the Army must enhance engagements and highlight opportunities for HBCUs. Diverse perspectives provide a critical source of innovative talent and novel concepts for the advancement of Army Modernization Priorities and national security.
The xTechHBCU Student competition provides a structured and focused entry path for eligible undergraduates to submit novel concepts and technology solutions directly to the Army. Participants will receive detailed feedback from Army and DoD stakeholders, and will have access to training, mentorship, and networking opportunities through the xTechHBCU Student accelerator. The competition will award up to $100,000 in cash prizes to select eligible participants throughout the competition. From the finals event, the judges will select up to four winners and award the top participant the grand prize of $10,500.
The xTechHBCU Student competition will consist of two rounds:
The xTechHBCU Student competition will provide non-dilutive seed prizes to select undergraduate students. The efforts described in this notice are being pursued under the authorities of 10 U.S.C. §4025 (formerly 2374a), 10 U.S.C. §4144, 10 U.S.C. § 4022 (Prototype Projects), and 10 U.S.C. § 2192.
All xTechHBCU Student competition submissions are treated as privileged information, and contents are disclosed to government employees or designated support contractors only for the purpose of evaluation and program support.
Judges panels will provide feedback to the participants throughout each phase of the competition. The purpose of providing this feedback is to continue strengthening the relationship between the Army and HBCUs, and help accelerate transition of the technology to an Army end-user by providing insight on best applications for the technology, suggestions for product improvement for Army use, and recommended next steps for development.
xTechHBCU Student is seeking novel, disruptive concepts and technology solutions from HBCU Students that can assist in tackling the Army’s current needs while strengthening relationships and collaborations between HBCU Students and the Army. For a complete list of topics, examples, and additional resources, please review the RFI on the submission page. The xTechHBCU Student competition will focus on three main open topic areas:
Topic 1: Autonomy
The U.S. Army, recognizing the significance of autonomy in modern warfare, is actively seeking innovative approaches to leverage autonomous technologies for the benefit of its service members. This includes a wide array of applications, including unmanned ground and aerial vehicles, autonomous logistics and supply chain management, advanced artificial intelligence systems for decision support, as well as autonomous weaponry. These innovations aim to enhance Soldier protection, augment situational awareness, and improve the lethality of our forces while adapting to the complexities of contemporary conflict.
Historically, military strategies often focused on traditional warfare scenarios, but the rapid evolution of autonomous technologies presents new challenges and opportunities. The Army’s commitment to embracing autonomy underscores the need to stay ahead of technological advancements, ensuring that our forces are prepared to face both known and unforeseen threats in an everchanging environment.
Topic 2: Chemical and Biological Sciences
The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has also identified a critical need to pursue synthetic biology solutions to yield new capabilities in protection, situational awareness, and lethality for warfighters. Research has already demonstrated the potential for this field to have major effects on commodity and specialty materials, sensing, human performance, medical, and biological and chemical weapons threats/defense, all of which are of substantial importance to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
Historically, with some exceptions, the defensive approach against chem/bio threats focused on countering a defined list of known biological and chemical agents. However, the rapid evolution of technology continues to drive the expansion of that threat list and, as the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated, the threat landscape now also includes the emergence of novel infectious disease pathogens. It may become increasingly difficult to determine the nature and origin of threat agents yet impacts to the operational mission will be similar regardless of whether the threat agent is naturally occurring, accidentally released, or deliberately made. This requires the Army to shift its strategy to focus on both non-specific products and specific countermeasures that can be scaled to quickly prepare for and respond to unknown threats.
The rapid evolution of chem/bio technology has also coincided with advancements in synthetic biology capabilities. Research has already demonstrated the potential for this field to have major effects on materials, sensing, human performance, medical, and biological and chemical weapons threats/defense – all of which are of substantial importance to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Topic 3: Health
Digital Transformation is a key initiative in the Army’s modernization strategy for the future force of 2035. The Army’s focus from 2022 through 2027 will be for preventative care when thinking about digital wellness such as mental health, physical health, and the prevention of harmful behaviors like suicide. The Army is also aware of the effects that the digital world has on young people’s health. The Army is interested in technologies that help provide better mental and physical health solutions to the broader society and to the Soldier.
Emerging technologies like cloud, AI, extended reality, and wearables continue to shape battlefield domains in ways that allow the Soldier to stay more connected than ever before. Remote and hybrid work environments have also shaped society towards a trend of 24/7 digital connectivity. While digitization has many benefits, research shows increased technology usage can also have negative effects to physical and mental health if not properly protected. Statistics also show these effects are exacerbated in marginalized communities with fewer paths and resources leading towards recovery and health.
Digital Wellness is an emerging field created to promote healthy technology usage habits. It also incorporates preventative care practices into technology design to optimize performance while protecting physical and mental health. Research has shown that technology use can become harmful to health when it interferes with healthy nutrition, sleep, and exercise. Excessive screentime is associated with increased risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions. Over 27% of Army personnel reported 5+ hours of screentime per day. Only 40% of soldiers reported eating 2 or more servings of vegetables per day. Less than 40% of the Army met sufficient sleep targets set by the CDC and the National Sleep Foundation in 2020 during active duty. Increased suicide rates among active-duty military have also been reported.
While health is a broad topic, areas of critical importance in the context of preventative care and digital wellness include: Mental Health, Sleep Health, and Nutritional Science.
“There is no stigma associated with taking care of yourself and your family. We should strive to connect our Soldiers with the necessary resources for their wellbeing. The Army is its people, and a strong, healthy, resilient, trained force is the most important indicator of our readiness.” – The Secretary of the Army
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Click below to hear students talk about their experiences from our previous xTechHBCU Student Competition. Several of the xTechHBCU Student finalists walked away with interviews and on-the-spot job offers during the competition finals!
Sep 20, 2023 - Nov 14, 2023
Up to 20 Finalists
Feb 15, 2024 - Feb 17, 2024
Up to 4 Winners
1st Place: $10.5K; 2nd Place: $8.5K; 3rd Place: $6.5K; 4th Place: $4.5K
The individuals allowed to participate in this competition must be current students from institutions classified as an HBCU by the U.S. Department of Education designated HBCU institutions.
The student must:
Eligible applicants include community colleges or other two-year degree-granting institutions meeting the definition of a “covered educational institution.”