How to Apply

To be considered for the competition, you must:
  • Carry out original research on a topic of interest within one of the competition categories. Note: “Original research” refers to research that conveys an innovative idea or new perspective.
  • Follow the Submission Process outlined below.

Note: Individuals or teams (of up to 2 students) may apply.  


Only online submissions will be accepted. There will be no exceptions.

Your full application submission MUST include:

  • An Intent to Participate Form, due December 8, 2017 December 15, 2017. See note below.

  • An Abstract, due January 9, 2018 January 19, 2018

  • A research report, maximum of 20 double-spaced pages, due January 9, 2018 January 19, 2018

  • A signed and uploaded Approval and Attestation Form, due January 9, 2018 January 19, 2018

Dates and deadlines for forms, abstract and report are also available here.


In addition, your application MAY also include:

  • A Request for Travel Award Form, due January 12, 2018 January 19, 2018

  • A Mentor Award Nomination Form, due January 12, 2018 January 19, 2018

  • A Blog Award Nomination Form, due January 12, 2018 January 19, 2018

Note: The Intent to Participate Form is nonbinding – submitting the form does not obligate you to submit an abstract or report. However, the form is required to generate a Project ID for you, which will be used to identify your future form submissions, including the abstract and report.

Incomplete or late submissions will NOT be accepted. For partner projects, only enter one submission for all forms except for the Request for Travel Award.




An abstract summarizing your research and its key components is due by January 9, 2018 January 19, 2018, 11:59:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. The abstract may be in the form of any of the following:

  • A text description of no more than 250 words
  • A 2-3 minute video or film (as a YouTube link)
  • Any other piece of media (such as a photograph or diagram) with a caption of no more than 100 words to capture the essence of the work.

Your abstract, regardless of format, should contain no personally identifiable information either in the filename or within the contents. Please label your abstract with your Project ID in the filename. For example, if your Project ID is MIT000, your abstract should be named MIT000_Abstract. Failure to name files properly will result in disqualification of your entry. 

All submissions must be in .pdf, .docx, .doc, .pptx, or .ppt format. If you have a video, please include the video link in your submission document.

For a description of who can serve as a mentor, please refer to Frequently Asked Questions section.




The research report should at a minimum contain a title page, purpose, conclusion, and bibliography in addition to more detailed sections discussing your research. Such additional sections may include hypotheses, claims, background, methodology, results, analysis, and acknowledgements based on your project. The report must be no longer than 20 double-spaced pages in total length, excluding the title page, bibliography, and acknowledgements. Visuals such as diagrams, timelines, photos, and tables supplementing the research content should be embedded directly in the relevant sections of the report. Note that MIT INSPIRE is not providing specific guidelines on report sections as report structures may depend on projects. Consult your mentor to determine which sections are most appropriate for your project. 

In addition:

  • Be sure to use the Times New Roman, Helvetica, or Arial font in 12 points for the body of the report.

  • Have page margins of one inch.

  • All diagrams, pictures, tables, and photos must have captions.

  • Include a title page, which does not count in the 20-page limit. This should list the project title, category, and Project ID number that you will receive after you submit your Intent to Participate Form.

  • Ensure that the report has no mention or reference to your name(s), school name, or any other identifying personal information.

  • Any material that is not your own must be cited according to MLA, APA, or Chicago style guidelines. The bibliography does not count towards the page limit.

  • Please label your report with your Project ID in the filename as follows: If your Project ID is MIT000, your report should be named MIT000_Report.


Note: Failure to follow any of the above guidelines will result in disqualification of your entry.

Submit your Report online at by January 9, 2018 January 19, 2018 11:59:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.


Upon evaluation of your submission, if you are selected as a Finalist, you will be invited to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, MA to present your work to experts in the appropriate research category. Finalists will be announced in late February or early March.

To compete for prizes, Finalists must be willing and available to participate in the final competition round in person at MIT. If chosen as a Finalist, you will receive additional forms that may require the consent of your parent and mentor. These forms must be submitted prior to participating in the final round. See in-person presentation requirements for details. 

Note: MIT INSPIRE is not responsible for providing travel arrangement for Finalists. However eligible students may request up to $300 for travel costs by completing the optional Request for Travel Award Form. MIT INSPIRE reserves the right to determine whether a travel award will be granted on a case-by-case basis.




If you are selected as a Finalist, your in-person presentation MUST include:

  1. A poster board (no larger than 30’’ deep, 48’’ wide, and 72’’ high) that includes the highlights of your research, which are described in detail in the research report. Your poster board must either be able to stand on its own on a table (such as a tri-fold board) or be a roll-up poster.
  2. An oral presentation, which will consist of a two to five-minute summary of your work followed by question-and-answer sessions with judges. You should be prepared to adjust the length of your presentation according to your judge’s expectations on judging day.
  3. A copy of the research report you submitted in the online application.
  4. A copy of the abstract you submitted in the online application.

For partner projects, both members must be present for the in-person presentation.

During the final round, the only setup materials you will be provided are tables upon which to display your poster board. MIT INSPIRE may also be able to provide a limited number of poster display stands, but tri-fold boards are encouraged due to limited supply. If you would like to include an audio/visual component in your presentation, please indicate so on your Finalist forms (to be published in the Spring). You will be responsible for bringing any other equipment, such as extension cords.




Blogging about your research and submitting your blog for the INSPIRE Shakespeare Award is purely optional.

The INSPIRE Team hopes that you will blog about your research experience. It can be a nice way to share your reflections regarding your research journey with others. If you choose to apply for the blog award, your blog should:

  1. Have a minimum of 9 entries
  2. Include some form of multimedia, such as pictures and/ or videos (see note below)
  3. Address what you have learned through the research process and what you have enjoyed
  4. Discuss any challenges you have encountered and if applicable, how you surmounted them

Only one blog submission will be accepted per project. If you have a partner project, this means that you and your partner may submit one joint blog entry.

Note: You are required to obtain written permission and properly acknowledge ownership of all images and other media that you intend to post in your blog, that you do not own or were not developed solely by you. Blog content that violates any laws, is offensive, incites violence or is otherwise deemed inappropriate for viewing by the general public (for purposes of this competition) will not be accepted.