Tech Contributions with Societal Impact

The Min Family Engineering Social Entrepreneurship Challenge is a competition that provides USC students (both undergraduates and graduates) with the opportunity to use innovations in engineering and technology to develop sustainable and effective solutions to global problems and to positively affect the greater global society.

In particular, it aims to address the development of solutions to problems and challenges faced by underprivileged parts of our society or in underdeveloped countries worldwide.

Teams are invited to make technological contributions with societal impact to any of the areas identified by a number of Grand Challenges initiatives, including the Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), grand challenges by organizations such as the Gates Foundation, and any other articulated challenges for which technology solutions offer broad societal impact, particularly for underserved communities.

Through this process, teams will have the opportunity to interview customers and stakeholders to learn about community needs and determine possible solutions. Teams will offer proposed solutions and based on those proposals, funds will be allocated to research implementation strategies over Spring break.

The Process

Teams wishing to participate will submit an application with a broad overview of the challenge to be addressed.

No more than 6 teams will be invited to participate in the competition.

Participating teams will attend a series of workshops focused on customer discovery and social entrepreneurship. They will also interview 20 customers throughout the course of the competition.

Teams will submit written proposals in March and will present in an event, date and location TBD. Proposals are for funds of up to $10,000 for implementation research over Spring break.

In the spring semester, teams will learn the funding decision regarding their implementation research.

Over Spring break (week of March 13), selected teams will conduct implementation research.

On Thursday, April 6, teams will present the results of their implementation research and will compete for the final prizes.


Each team interested in participating in the Min Family Engineering Social Entrepreneurship Challenge must submit an application online.


All Applications must be submitted by
Sunday, October 9, 2016 by Midnight PT

Join a Team

Students looking to join teams can submit their names here: Viterbi Innovation Competitions: Team Interest Form.

The list of those who wish to participate will be distributed accordingly.

Make A Difference

Key Dates & Schedule

Application Deadline

Sun, Oct 9 @ Midnight

Project Teams Acceptance Notification

Tue, Oct 25 @ 5PM

Kick Off Event

Tus, Nov 15. More info TBD

Team Workshops To Be Held

December through March

Implementation Proposal Due

December through March


December through March


Thursday, April 6


Teams will apply for up to $10,000 in implementation research funds to fund travel and other qualified expenses upon approval by the Viterbi School of Engineering.
Students must request funds in advance and all receipts must be submitted for reimbursement. No funds may be used for salary, stipend, or other compensation. Funds may be used only during the duration of the competition.

First Place
Second Place

The Application

Each team interested in participating in the Min Family Engineering Social Entrepreneurship Challenge must submit an application online.

All applications must be submitted by Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 11:59 P.M.PT

The applications should include:

  1. The problem that the team intends to address (30 words or less)
  2. Your proposed technology-based solution (50 words or less)
  3. Name, school, e-mail, graduation date, and one sentence bio for each team member. The maximum number of team members is 5. All USC students are invited to participate, although each team must have at least one Viterbi student as member.
  4. Teams that are admitted to the program will be advised by Wednesday, October 25, 5 pm. The admitted teams will attend subsequent educational sessions.
  5. Admitted teams will submit a full proposal by Monday, March 6, midnight PT. Instructions for this proposal will be available on in February.

The Rules

  1. Each team must have at least one member who is currently enrolled as a student (undergraduate or graduate) at the Viterbi School of Engineering.
  2. No student may serve as the qualifying student, as described above, for more than one team.
  3. There is no entry fee.
  4. Each team shall not submit more than one project.
  5. Teams may not consist of more than five members, but can be as few as one member.
  6. Teams must register online before the application deadline to be considered for the challenge.
  7. All student participants should be in good-standing at USC.
  8. Team members are expected to participate in the educational workshops. Four 90-minute workshop will take place during the project proposal preparation period. These will cover basic aspects of social entrepreneurship and new business development. The dates for these lectures are listed on the challenge’s web page.
  9. Team members are expected to engage in the customer discovery process by interviewing 20 stakeholders or potential customers/users, all of which should be in person. In the event geographic distance is an obstacle, interviews through skype or other means will be accepted. Travel support can be available as discussed below.
  10. Team members are expected to commit to a sustained relationship with the Min Family Engineering Social Entrepreneurship Challenge and to maintain a professional, open, and responsive attitude with the instructors that work with them.
  11. The Min Family Engineering Social Entrepreneurship Challenge team reserves the right to terminate from participating in the program any individual that fails to comply with the challenge rules or procedures, or fails to act in accordance with USC policies.

Published on January 6th, 2017

Last updated on March 7th, 2022