Tips & Traps


The RASC-AL Steering Committee has developed an evolving list of “Tips and Traps” for participants of the RASC-AL Competition. These snippets of advice are directly related to their experience with previous RASC-AL Competitions, and are designed to improve your overall performance in RASC-AL. We encourage you to take advantage of this valuable resource and learn from other’s mistakes!

  • Do not regurgitate information found on Google searches! The judges are looking for solid research, as well as innovative new approaches and ideas.
  • Read ALL of the RASC-AL competition guidelines and requirements found in the Competition Basics document.
  • Find a faculty advisor who will work with your team throughout the year, and who will attend the Forum. Faculty advisor attendance is required.
  • Adhere to the established guidelines for paper submissions/presentations.
    • This includes basics such as adhering to page limits, font styles, and slide readability of presentations.
  • Consult the technical resources provided by NASA and the Steering Committee on the RASC-AL website Resources page.
  • Participate in the Q&A webinar.
  • Find a balance between sound technical analysis and revolutionary concepts. Innovation will be rewarded and is highly desired, but not at the expense of fundamentals.
  • Provide adequate analysis and documentation (i.e. support) for your expected outcomes.
  • Find balance between accurately addressing the overall system architecture and supporting specific focuses within your design.
  • If you drill down and focus your research and engineering on a particular design element to validate; you will still need to provide sufficient relevance, connection and context to the broader solution.
  • Practice your oral presentation and prepare answers to possible questions. Brush up on your presentation skills.
  • Ensure your presentation reflects the technical paper.
  • Submit all materials on time. Late submissions will not be accepted.
  • Be prepared to network with NASA and industry during the Forum. It could be a great opportunity for you.
  • Bring your resume to the Forum. You never know who may be hiring, so be sure to network.
  • Attend all RASC-AL Forum activities and be punctual. Full team participation is required for all events, and your team’s overall score may be penalized for lack of participation by any member.
  • Be sure your math, science and engineering fundamentals are solid.
  • Pay attention to principles of Project Management.
  • When using costing models (such as NAFCOM), make sure to perform a thorough analysis on the results. A number that sounds too high or too low probably is!
  • Don’t try to answer a judge’s question to which you don’t have a good answer. The judges will know you are hedging and you may get penalized.
  • Missing deadlines for registration and registration payment may cost you points for failing to adhere to deadlines.
  • Faculty advisors must attend. Schools risk forfeiting their travel stipends if the advisor is not present.