Das Family Innovate x LA CEE Student Competition

Calling all innovators, engineers, entrepreneurs, creatives and makers to join a passionate team of students who will work on transformative innovations for the City of Angels.

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The department looks forward to hosting this competition annually.

The current competition cycle is closed.

Information regarding future competition cycles will be available in June 2023.


About the Competition

The USC Viterbi Sonny Astani Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, together with industry partners, launches The Das Family Innovate x LA CEE Student Competition.

  • Focus: City of Los Angeles
  • Mission: Innovate engineering and technological solutions to the most pressing challenges facing the city of Los Angeles
  • Toolkit: Engineering design, data analytics, systems thinking, user research, discovery of new materials, entrepreneurship and storytelling
The Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), with the support of the Das Family, has launched a one-of-a-kind inaugural student competition called Innovate LA. Competing student teams will have the chance to win a grand prize of $15,000! This year's competition began with a kickoff event featuring keynote speaker Philippe Cousteau Jr, oceanographer and environmental activist. The Final Pitch Day will be held in mid-April 2023. Student teams will attend six monthly seminars focused on developing their ideas for the Final Pitch Day. They will showcase their pitch decks to panels comprised of startup founders. Students will receive feedback on monthly submissions of pitch deck sections and guidance for refining their presentations before Final Pitch Day.
The competition will serve as guidance for launching a startup and creating a compelling pitch for your idea. It is led by our Competition Director who provides the participating students with series of “Masterclasses” for the "0 to 1 Founder Journey.”

Who can apply?

Teams will be led by CEE students, but students from a variety of disciplines at USC are strongly encouraged to apply. We are looking for big, bold ideas that can be implemented to make Los Angeles a more sustainable, prosperous, equitable, joyful and healthier city for all to live in for generations to come.
All participants will attend workshops and receive mentorship from faculty and industry leaders throughout the competition.

The goal of the competition is to create a learning opportunity for students and encourage them to address Los Angeles’ biggest challenges that could be solved by innovations in civil and environmental engineering. Students will develop innovative engineering ideas to mitigate one of five challenges focusing on Southern California and Los Angeles:

  • Disaster Resilience
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Urban Livability
  • Extreme Habitats
  • Transportation Service Systems