Background: The Coast Guard’s Research and Development (R&D) Center is responsible for creating and implementing new technology initiatives for the fleet. Each year the Coast Guard’s R&D Center asks for research and development ideas for its annual portfolio from active duty, reservist, and auxiliarist Coasties. The best research topics are compiled into a portfolio that guides the research efforts of the R&D center for the following year. This solicitation typically occurs at the end of the fiscal year, but the R&D center has agreed to provide the research areas to the Coast Guard Auxiliary Youth Programs Division in early summer to allow time for a competition among the Sea Scouts.

Overview: Sea Scouts will form teams to conduct real-world STEM research assessments. The Scouts will choose a problem facing the Coast Guard related to predetermined criteria, formulate a solution to their problem by conducting research, and present the results in a concise report. The Coast Guard Auxiliary Youth Programs will review the research proposals and select the top three teams’ submissions to be sent to the R&D Center, potentially steering the direction of the entire Coast Guard for years to come.

Task/Objective: Scouts will form teams of 5-7 youths and complete and submit the competition registration form. A Ship may have multiple teams if there is sufficient interest/participation, and there is no fee for registering or submitting an entry. Once the teams are formed, the team will be assigned a mentor by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. This mentor will act as a Coast Guard subject matter expert to help the scouts identify problems and develop solutions that could work for the Coast Guard.

The R&D Center’s research areas are in the following section. Each team will select a single research area for its proposal. If they wish to submit proposals for multiple research areas, these proposals must be submitted separately. The research areas are broad concepts that are intended to encourage team creativity. Once the team identifies their research area, they will formulate a potential solution and conduct research to either validate or substantiate it.

After conducting their research, the team will submit their work product to the judging panel. A sample submission packet can be downloaded from this link: . Attachments may accompany the submission package and need not be in a specific format. Submission packages will be emailed to  and must be sent prior to 5 PM Eastern time on Aug. 15, 2021. The judging panel will then score and rank each entry. The top three will be submitted to the Coast Guard’s R&D Center for potential inclusion in the year’s Coast Guard research priorities.

Coast Guard Research Priorities:

  1. Examine and Employ the Right Combination of Technologies and Information Sciences to Meet Future Readiness Needs (1.2.4): Grow Advanced Computing Capabilities to Maximize Readiness.

    Explanation: The Coast Guard collects and processes massive amounts of data to complete its missions. This data collection and processing can be time-consuming, labor intensive, and tedious. How can technology and information science be used to streamline this challenge?

  2. Advance Resilient Information Technology and Command and Control in Crisis (3.1.3): Continue Development of Mobile Solutions to Deliver Mission Excellence Anytime, Anywhere.

    Explanation: The Coast Guard frequently operates in conditions where all information infrastructure has been crippled or destroyed by disasters like hurricanes. Quickly getting reliable first-hand information from the field to command is essential to saving lives. Recommend strategies for addressing this challenge.

  3. Employ Effective Presence to Deter and Disrupt Maritime Threats to the Nation (2.1.3): Utilize Autonomous Systems to Address the Nation’s Complex Maritime Challenges.

    Explanation: The Coast Guard is tasked with securing the U.S.’s 95,000-mile coastline. It enforces federal and international laws while complying with the U.S. Constitution and international treaties. Given the size of the nation, it is difficult to uniformly cover everywhere with traditional Coast Guard resources like cutters, boats, and aircraft. Given the complexities of maritime law enforcement, autonomous systems may offer a partial solution. Explore potential law enforcement solutions that utilize autonomous systems.

  4. Advance Resilient Information Technology and Command and Control in Crisis (3.1.3): Strengthen Resilience. Safety, and Security of Coast Guard Systems and Personnel to Deliver Mission Excellence Anytime, Anywhere.

    Explanation: The Coast Guard operates in diverse environments like the arctic, natural and manmade disasters, the cyber realm, and harsh environmental conditions. The Coast Guard must counter these challenges by developing and utilizing emerging technologies and processes. Recommend Coast Guard missions that would benefit from emerging technology and process solutions.

  5. Sharpen the Skills of the Mission Ready Total Workforce (1.12): Develop Human Machine Teaming to Maximize Readiness.

    Explanation: Autonomous technologies are rapidly developing and offer many advantages, but they come with their own problems. It is important to develop human-computer user interfaces that reliably enable Coast Guard personnel to develop and maintain competencies, accomplish their mission, and ensure consistently reliable outcomes. Recommend strategies for identifying and developing this support.

  6. Strengthen Reliability of C51 Enterprise Systems (1.2.1): Maximize Readiness Today and Tomorrow by Enhancing C51 Capabilities.

    Explanation: The Cyber world is becoming progressively central to the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out its missions. The Coast Guard uses computer systems, IT systems, and intelligence now more than ever, particularly as the service is tasked with focusing on the Arctic. Recommend innovative new and existing technologies to address this need.

  7. Develop Service Solutions to Climate Change Impacts.

    Explanation: The Coast Guard must continue to find ways to reduce its environmental impact while executing its missions. Recommend climate-friendly green solutions to support traditional, current, and future challenges.

Judging criteria:

  1. Overall – This score reflects the judges’ overall impression of your submission package.
  2. Presentation – Your proposal’s writing, support materials, and presentation will be evaluated, with particular attention placed on the quality of your background research. A consistent formatting style is expected. Grammar, spelling, and formatting errors and inconsistencies will adversely affect your score.
  3. Problem – This score measures how relevant your problem is to a Coast Guard mission and/or research priority.
  4. Solution – This factor reflects how practical your solution is and how well it utilizes new or existing technologies.
  5. Research – This factor assesses the quantity and quality of your team’s research into the problem and solution. The research should balance exploring the problem and potential solutions, taking care to use and cite reputable sources. The judges will also evaluate any experiments that your team conducts.


  • Jul. 15, 2021 – Registration form are due
  • Aug. 15, 2021 – Final Packages are due
  • Aug. 31, 2021 – Judging panel results will be released

Participants, judges, and officials shall NOT directly or indirectly reach out to any active-duty unit or active-duty member of the United States Coast Guard in any way, including but not limited to telephone calls, emails, or text messages, concerning this competition.