October 6, 2023

The AEOP Veterans Appreciation Challenge is back for its third year! This is your time to show off your 3D design skills, honor those who have served and earn recognition for yourself and your school. Previously known as the “We (Heart) Veterans Pin Design” challenge, the competition invites 4-12th grade students in the U.S.–including U.S. territories or possessions and schools for the children of U.S. personnel overseas–are challenged to create 3D wearable pins for the chance to have the pins printed and distributed to veterans at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum (NVMM) in Columbus, Ohio. The winner from each grade band, 4-8th and 9-12th, earns a 3-day, 2-night trip for two to the NVMM, and a 3D printer that will be donated to a school or organization on your behalf. Learn more and register for the challenge here.

Challenge Timeline

  • December 15, 2023: Deadline to submit 3D pin designs
  • March 7, 2024: Finalists announced
  • April 3, 2024: Winners announced


The Army Educational Outreach Program and Future Engineers Launch Third Annual National 3D Pin Design Challenge to Celebrate Veterans

Students compete by developing unique 3D designs, engineering pins to honor U.S. veterans

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 3, 2023 – The “AEOP Veterans Appreciation Challenge” returns for its third year, inviting 4 – 12th grade students to put their 3D design and engineering skills to the test to show their appreciation for U.S. veterans. The Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) will again sponsor the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) challenge in partnership with Future Engineers, an organization that administers free, online STEM competitions for students. 

“At the AEOP, STEM education is about the intersection of what can be learned in the classroom and what can be done out in the world to make an impact,” said Christina Weber, AEOP cooperative agreement manager at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM). “The Veterans Appreciation Challenge allows students to express their creativity and develop their 3D design and engineering skills while expressing appreciation for our country’s valued Americans — our veterans. We look forward to seeing the unique designs students across the country create, and we commend them for their work to honor our veterans.”

“It’s so rewarding to work with AEOP on a challenge that gets students engaged in STEM learning while inspiring them to show their appreciation for our veterans in a unique, creative way,” says founder and CEO of Future Engineers, Deanne Bell. “We are proud to once again open this challenge up to students across the country and look forward to seeing their amazing 3D pin designs.”

Previously known as the “We (Heart) Veterans Pin Design” challenge, students in grades four through 12 will design a digital 3D model of a wearable pin that celebrates their appreciation for our veterans. The challenge is free to enter, and the landing page features no-cost resources and tools for students and teachers alike. In the past two years, the competition has reached over 4,000 students from across the country, U.S. territories and possessions, and schools operated by the U.S. for the children of US personnel overseas. The ten finalists from each grade band, 4th – 8th and 9th – 12th, had their pins 3D printed and distributed to veterans at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio. 

“Integrating 3D printing is a strategic way to help students of this generation learn to fuse both technology and an appreciation for the military into a competition,” said Cheryl Hernandez, teacher at STEM Academy in San Antonio, Texas. “The AEOP Veterans Appreciation Challenge combines research and competition to encourage students not only to problem solve but to seek out ways to be compassionate, community-serving individuals through innovation.”

All entries will be judged by volunteers, including U.S. service members and veterans. Ten finalists will be selected from two grade bands (20 finalists total), 4th – 8th and 9th – 12th. Their designs will be brought out of the digital world, 3D printed and distributed to the veterans who visit the National Veterans Memorial Museum. Finalists will also each receive five prints of their design and a $100 gift card toward a professional 3D print. The two grand prize challenge winners will win a trip for two to Columbus, OH, to attend a special Memorial Day event at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. Each winner will also receive a 3D printer donated to the school, library or organization of their choice. Learn more and register for the challenge here

About the Army Educational Outreach Program

The Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) seeks to provide an accessible pathway of STEM opportunities to attract, develop, and mentor the next generation of our nation’s diverse talent through U.S. Army educational outreach programs. AEOP offers our nation’s youth, young professionals and educators opportunities for meaningful, real-world STEM experiences, competitions and paid internships alongside U.S. Army researchers. From elementary school through to post doctoral students and educators, participants of all proficiency levels, interests, ethnic, economic and academic backgrounds are encouraged to participate in AEOP. For more information on AEOP, visit usaeop.com. Follow AEOP on X, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About Battelle

Battelle is an independent nonprofit organization that advances science and technology to have the greatest impact on our society and economy. With more than 90 years of experience, we turn knowledge into profound innovation. And we use our proceeds to reinvest in the advancement of science and technology, as well as build schools to advance STEM programs.Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle provides comprehensive scientific solutions to companies and government agencies across multiple markets, including: health, industry, national security, infrastructure, and environment. For more information, visit battelle.org. Follow Battelle on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

About Future Engineers

Future Engineers hosts online contests and challenges for K-12 students. Previous challenges have helped produce historic achievements – from naming NASA’s Perseverance rover to manufacturing the first student-designed 3D print in space. All challenges are offered free for student and classroom participation. For more information, visit futureengineers.org. Follow Future Engineers on X, Facebook, and Instagram.


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    The eCYBERMISSION Mini-Grant is intended to support teachers/program leaders as they implement eCYBERMISSION with their teams. Educators (formal and informal) of students in grades 6-9 are encouraged to apply. Special consideration is given to Title 1 schools and to those with underserved/ under-represented populations.