Applicant Guide - Collegiate Award

Purpose of this guide:

Allow an applicant to:

1. Understand the overall process of applying for the Aspirations in Computing Collegiate Award

2. Successfully complete the application process by having detailed information about the online application

Guidance and Recommended Approach


  • Select a Technical Project you have worked on, alone or as part of a team, as long as you were a significant contributor. To be competitive, the Technical Project will have solved a problem (technical, social, physical, etc.) by applying a technical solution involving computing. You don’t need to have solved world hunger but you should be able to clearly describe why the problem was worthwhile to solve and how you innovated, using computing technology, to solve it.
  • The selection committee will be looking for impact and innovation in your contribution to your project and/or its solution. The project you put forth in your application should be something you worked on within the last year. It is okay to use a project from high school if you’re a college Freshman or something from a class you completed last school year.


  • NCWIT recommends that you compile the elements of your application on your own computer, before beginning the online application. There are many elements, outlined below, that you should write or gather before beginning your application online.
  • Please remember to write in complete sentences, use correct grammar and check your spelling. We recommend that you have someone else proofread and help you perfect your written responses - as long as the thoughts are your own!


In order to complete your application, you need to: 

1. Follow these rules

  • You are (or will become) a member of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community.
  • You are enrolled in a higher education institution within the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, or on U.S. military bases overseas during the 2023-2024 academic year and you are one of the following:
    • a former recipient of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing who is currently enrolled in a higher education institution, or
    • a member of the AiC Community via the collegiate or high school entry-point
  • You are one of the following:
  • You must have a valid U.S. Social Security or Tax Identification number.
  • You must reside in the U.S. or on a U.S. overseas military base or be a US citizen residing in Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • You are an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in computing.
  • You are NOT an immediate family member (including spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren, and persons residing in the same household) of employees, extended staff, contractors or Board members of NCWIT.
  • You are (or will be) 18 years of age or older on the day you submit your application.
  • You are not a previous NCWIT Collegiate Award Winner (Honorable Mentions may apply again).
  • You agree to the rest of our terms, available here.


2. Submit by the following deadlines

Preliminary Round 

Students may apply online, beginning on October 10, 2023 and no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday November 20, 2023.

A recommendation form from a project advisor is REQUIRED and due no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday November 20, 2023. Applications missing any materials will not be considered for recognition.

Finalist Round

Applicants invited to move to the Final Round may apply online, beginning on December 22, 2023 and no later than January 29, 2024.

Preliminary Round application includes:

Required questions and information:

  • Project Title
  • Project Description:
    • In 500 words or less, please provide a thorough description of your project. Note that we are not necessarily looking for an academic “Project Abstract” here, but if you have something written in such language, that is likely a good starting place. What we are after is a clear, understandable explanation of what you did, how it works, who your project is designed to benefit/impact, what was hard or challenging about the problem you solved, and how you overcame the challenges, without requiring the reader to be an expert with deep background knowledge. While our reviewers are ‘technical’ people, they may not know all about the tech area in which your project falls.
  • “Short Answer” Questions (350 words each):
    • Project Interest/Innovation: Whether you chose the project or were assigned to it, please describe the aspects that were technically innovative and interesting.
    • Project Importance/Impact: In your opinion, why is this project important and what impact will it have?
  • Add Some Keywords for Your Project:
    • Select keywords from the list to which your project relates.
    • If other keywords describe your project, but are not provided on the list, include them in "Other Project Keywords."
  • School Information:
    • Year in School; Graduation Year
  • General Short Answer Questions:
    • What supports in your life help make your work possible?
    • What impediments do you have in your life that limit your work?
  • Acknowledgement and Confirmation of all rules, rights, terms and authenticity
  • Signature
  • Date

Project Contribution Background:

Multiple Choice Questions:

  • ​How did the idea for the project come about? (assigned, out of necessity, own interest...)
  • How much of the overall work was your contribution?
  • How significant was your contribution to the project outcomes?
  • Considering the portion of the project that you worked on, how much supervision and direction were you given?

Short Answer Questions:

  • Referencing your answers above, please describe your individual contribution to this project.
  • Please list names of those who contributed to the project and their role in the project.
  • What roadblocks are/were in your path to success?

Recommendation from a Professor or Project Advisor:

  • ​To aid our application reviewers, we’ll ask you to share with us the contact information for someone who knows many of the details about your project and can write a complete explanation recommending you and your project for its technical quality, difficulty and potential impact.
  • We need a name and email address for this recommender who is likely a Professor (but need not be). We will contact that person and ask them to complete a recommendation form about you, your project and its level of achievement versus your peers.
  • To reduce bias, we will request that your recommenders do not include identifying information about you or your institution.​​

Finalist Round Application Includes:

Technical Project Presentation with Narration:

  • ​Presentation videos will assist in assessing your project as a whole including, but not limited to: presentation clarity and effectiveness, the project's technical difficulty, innovation and potential impact.
  • This gives you an opportunity to further explain your Project and your contribution to it. We ask that you create it in a way that doesn’t violate any rules nor introduce any bias - it’s “The Voice” of technical project competitions! 
  • The video presentation typically takes the form of a slide presentation recorded with a voice-over. Recommended length: 4-6 minutes (maximum of 6 minutes - reviewers will be instructed to score only the first 6 minutes of the presentation if it exceeds the maximum length).
  • Note: Accessibility is important for our organization – both for our applicants and reviewers. Feel free to use AI-based narration, captions, etc. in your project presentation and contact [email protected] if you have any questions about accessibility.

Video requirements:

  • ​An original work, created for this competition’s application
  • Created yourself (though it may be okay to use pre-existing content such as drawings, photos and diagrams if you have the rights to them)
  • No images of people, including yourself
  • No personally identifying information about you or your school (which may introduce the potential for bias) -- this includes your YouTube or Vimeo profile
  • No identifiable images of other people (because you likely don’t have rights to use the likenesses of others and we’re asking you for the rights to share this presentation with our audiences as a requirement of submission)
  • Work must not violate any of the terms in the Consent & Release form nor Rules

3. Understand these details

  • The Preliminary Round application includes essays and short answer questions, and a recommendation from a project advisor. The Finalist Round includes a project presentation.​
  • All applications will be reviewed by industry technical professionals using a scoring rubric.
  • Applicants must acknowledge all teammates involved with the project.
  • Applicants must be the sole creator of their project presentation.
  • Use PowerPoint or other presentation software to effectively demonstrate your knowledge and showcase examples of your project. Please remember to speak clearly or use AI-voiceovers or captions. The video screencast presentation recommended length is 5-6 minutes, with a 6 minute maximum. 
  • Here is an example of a screencast and tutorial on how to create a screencast: ​
  • There are also many videos on the internet to learn how to create a narrated slideshow.
  • The recommendation should be from a professor in your computing major; however, if you are submitting a project you completed at an internship or under the supervision of a different mentor you may submit a letter of recommendation from that technical manager/mentor.
  • Ask the recommender to speak to the technical project and to your technical abilities.
  • Brief the professor/manager about the project and the Award.
  • Up to six winners and up to twelve honorable mentions will be selected.
  • NCWIT requires paperwork including an affidavit and IRS W9. Failure by Awardees to return required paperwork may result in forfeiture of all awards hereunder.

  • If you have questions check out our FAQs and join us for a live Q&A session!
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