College and graduate students from all around the U.S. can start submitting ideas and designs for the Army’s next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles — and could be awarded up to $35,000 in prize money for the project.

The C3 Converge/Collaborate/Create Challenge is organized by Wichita State University’s FirePoint Innovations Center and allows university teams of student designers, engineers and others to pitch their ideas to the Department of Defense and other aerospace, aviation and manufacturing industry experts.

Registration for the competition opened Thursday. U.S. residents studying at universities across the U.S. are eligible to register, and must submit an intent to compete by Oct. 18.

“Our mission with C3 is twofold. First, our primary directive is to develop the next generation of engineers and innovators to fuel the Army’s talent pipeline, and there’s no better way to do that than by exposing students to the technologies, techniques and career opportunities available,” Steve Cyrus, manager of technology collaborations with FirePoint, said in a news release.

“Second, by building partnerships between the U.S. Army and universities across the country, we hope to bring some of the best university technology to market where it can support both U.S. military and American manufacturing superiority,” Cyrus added.

To participate, teams of up to 15 people are asked to submit a design proposal for lift, energy, or structure components of an unmanned aerial vehicle subsystem.

Once teams submit their proposals, up to 10 teams must then provide their proof of concepts to ensure that the design is possible for unmanned aerial system implementation. In February 2020, up to four teams will advance to the last several stages to start prototype construction and finalize the development with the assistance of the Army and the industry.

From July 2020 to December 2020, remaining teams will then work together to integrate the subsystems and compose one unmanned aerial system.

As the challenge wraps up in January 2021, teams will provide a functional demonstration to the Pentagon and other industry experts to accompany their final reports. Awards and other recognitions will be distributed in February 2021.

Multiple prizes are available for teams throughout the challenge, including internships and workshops with competition partners. Some teams may also be awarded up to $35,000 for their project as part of a prize.

FirePoint Innovations is a partnership intermediary for the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center, which is sponsoring the challenge.

“This is a unique and exciting opportunity for aspiring engineers and innovators to work with some of the most advanced tools and design and manufacturing techniques employed in industry and see firsthand how modern engineering problem-solving happens on a global scale,” Cyrus said. “The learnings and networking opportunities will be valuable as participating C3 students move forward into their career-building process.”