Scenario Topics

 

The 2019 TEAMS Competition, "The Engineering Brain," will feature the following scenario topics for the multiple choice portion of the competition.

 

9/10 and 11/12 Topics

The multiple choice component of the TEAMS competition explores the theme “Engineering the Brain” through scenarios provided on specific topics. The eight high school topic areas are listed below. Overviews, which provide background information and website resources, are posted in the TEAMS Coach account.

Cognitive Neuroscience  
Engineers are involved in advancing these brain-imaging technologies by improving sensors, developing algorithms to process data, and designing interfaces that help others analyze the data and visualize results.  Your team will perform calculations and do some basic interpretation and signal processing to better understand what goes into making sense of this sort of complicated but important data.

Considering the Brain as Hardware
Your team must work to explore and establish the necessary design parameters for using a brain to accomplish tasks that normally would be handled by conventional electronics. In addition, your team will determine the needs of a specific application and consider how well a biological brain could meet those needs.

Using Decision Trees to Inform the Engineering Process
Your team will explore and apply the algorithms necessary for using tools of decision making, including decision trees, to make engineering decisions. 

Engineering the Invertebrate Brain
Invertebrates far outnumber the number and diversity of vertebrates, yet engineers, do not always consider them when trying to study the nervous system. Your team will use a variety of tools in order to understand and measure various aspects of some different invertebrate nervous systems, including how this might affect behaviors, interactions, and sensing of their environment.

Artificial Neural Networks
Your team will learn about the basics of a neural network and design one to solve a simple pattern recognition problem. You will consider the effect of different parameters in the creation of the neural network, such as the thresholds and weights, on the axons connecting the neurons.

The Brain as a Computer: Measuring Activity
Using EEG equipment, a scientist or engineer can measure neural activity with a temporal resolution of roughly 0.05 seconds; however, these measurements have, at best, a spatial resolution of roughly 10 mm.  Conversely, scientists or engineers can use fMRI to measure neural activity with a spatial resolution of roughly 1 mm, but a temporal resolution of, at best, 1–2 seconds.  Your engineering team will work to determine which measurements must be made to gather information on neural activity and how that data can be applied to better understanding the inner workings of the brain.

Traffic Engineering and Human Behavior
Traffic engineers consider the physical design of the road and how cars move through these confines, all while making safety a top priority.  Your team will utilize established rules of thumb and formulas that model human behavior around traffic systems to make predictions about the consequences of driver behavior and optimize the design of traffic systems.

Probability and Uncertainty in Design
Your team will be tasked to find levels of probability graphically and through the use of statistical tools and methods.  These calculations and estimations form the basis for many engineering designs.

 

Middle School Topics

Rational Decision Making
Your team will be tasked to understand the challenges associated with weighing risks in the decision-making process.  You will be asked to consider and quantitatively evaluate risk levels for a given situation. 

Autonomous Vehicles
Your team will be tasked to understand the benefits and challenges associated with autonomous vehicles. You will be asked to evaluate and test a system used to safely guide a vehicle on a roadway.  

Probability and Uncertainty in Design
Your team will be tasked to find levels of probability graphically and through the use of statistical tools and methods.  These calculations and estimations form the basis for many engineering designs.

Traffic Engineering and Human Behavior
Traffic engineers consider the physical design of the road and how cars move through these confines, all while making safety a top priority.  Your team will utilize established rules of thumb and formulas that model human behavior around traffic systems to make predictions about the consequences of driver behavior and optimize the design of traffic systems.