Specification Clarification Questions

MESA does its best to ensure our specifications are as clear as possible. However, there are times during the Engineering Design Process rules need to be clarified. In those instances student participants may submit Specification Clarification Questions. Specification Clarification questions must be emailed to azmesa@email.arizona.edu or submitted via our webform at MESA Day Question. Questions should be discussed with MESA teachers prior to submission. Submitted questions should include your name, your school, and the MESA teacher should be copied on the email.


  • Answer:

Question: Will the judges who judged our prototype pitch be the same judges who will watch our technical presentation?

  • Response: No, there are separate judges for the pitch and technical interview.

Question: Will the demonstration part of the technical presentation have to be live, or can it be recorded and shown on presentation day?

  • Response: The demonstration will have to be live. Per Rule 3b in the specifications “Teams are not allowed to use electronic presentations during their technical interview.” This means teams cannot use videos or PowerPoint or Google Slide presentations. However, Teams will be allowed to show and refer to the digital version of their poster, Design Brief, and Design Notebook.

Question: In the LEED specs what does the Regional Priority section mean?

  • Response: Regional Priorities are just that, specific credits are given based on priorities determined by the regional where the building will be located. To look up Regional Priority credits visit https://www.usgbc.org/regional-priority-credits. Use version 4.1 and New Construction for the system and then the zipcode for where your team wants to build. This information should be included in your design notebooks to justify Regional Credits you want judges to award you for.


  • Answer:

Question: Would the judges be willing to allow students to work alone on the disaster relief shelter?

  • Response – Per the specifications, the minimum team size for this event is two students. That requirement will remain in place, however, it is not required that both students physically participate in erecting the shelter.  A key component of MESA Design Challenges is the development of collaboration and communication skills that come with working on a team, so teams can meet virtually and use shared documents to work together on a bulk of the Engineering Design Process but decide to assign the role of building the actual shelter to one student. Also, if the shelter needs more than one person to erect then a parent or other family member who is housed with the team member acting as the builder can assist.

Question: Does the 5 min constraint mean we need to set up everything -including furniture OR could some things be preset up before the timer starts?

  • Response – Anything that the team considers a standard part of the shelter will need to be set-up in the 5-minute setup time. The easiest way to think about it is to consider basic needs

Question: Can we submit a video of us building it instead of building in real-time?

  • Response  - Response - Yes, in order to accommodate technology challenges we will ask students to submit videos of the presentation and shelter set-up prior to MESA Day for scoring.

Question: If my team is using tarps as part of their shelter, should we include these in the budget?

  • Response: Tarps are a common enough item that they do not have to be included in the budget and can be considered a salvage item. This reasoning should be included as a note in their design notebook for any item that will be included as a salvage. However, since there is not a guarantee that these items will be available teams should also ensure the include rational for the material choice and what types of materials could act as substitutes.

Question: The challenge does not specify what type of natural disaster we are building the shelter for, so can we chooses the natural disaster we want to build our shelter for?

  • Response: That is correct. Students can either choose a type of disaster or create a design that will work in multiple types of disasters. The research about the needs of people for the disaster(s) your team choose should be included in the presentation and design notebook.


Question: What should be included on the poster for the Disaster Shelter, and what size poster should be used?

  • Response: Students should use the Poster Rubric to guide them on what content should be included in the poster. The can also use these links as a resource. 
    Poster Design Guide
    Poster Design Template - A PowerPoint file with 2 design ideas and a blank slide to design a poster.  Meets the size requirement for the poster.

Question: Can a team use the Code.org app development program?

  • Answer: Yes, you can.  Section 1a of the Design Parameters state: "Developed using MIT App Inventor or similar program" Code.org app development is a similar program.  Make sure that you can share the source codes that are required in the Design Parameters section 3ciii when choosing your software platform.

Question: For the mobile app, what should be used for the design brief?  Should it be through something like Google Slides/PPT or more like a poster or is it information that should be included in the video presentation?

  • Answer: The Design Brief for the Mobile App should be thought of more as a Word or Google Doc. The objective of the Design Brief is to provide a brief, non-technical overview of the entire project. It should include only the most important information that judges might need. It should be able to stand alone but can be used to support the pitch. The pieces that are required are below, any other information is up to the students and they should use the rubric to guide both the Design Brief and Pitch.
    • School Name
    • Team Members Names
    • App Name
    • Problem Statement - 100 words describing the problem and how the app intends to address this problem.
    • Screenshots of the App that show how users will interface and content of the screens