Old Guard Oral Presentation Competition


Rules and Procedures

Like all professionals, engineers must possess a well-developed ability to synthesize issues and communicate effectively to diverse audiences. Among the highlights of ASME’s Student Professional Development Conference (SPDC) program is the Old Guard Oral Presentation Competition. This competition is designed to emphasize the value of an ability to deliver clear, concise and effective oral presentations, particularly pertaining to some sphere in which an engineer is or should be involved.

Each student presentation lasts fifteen minutes and is followed by a five minute "Question and Answer" (Q&A) period. First Place winners from each of the Conferences are invited to compete at the Society level at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition.

Each presentation in the Oral Presentation Competition must be delivered in English. The subject matter of each presentation must address a technical, economic or environmental aspect of engineering or other basic engineering theme, provided it pertains to some sphere in which an engineer is or should be involved. A major portion of a contestant's total score is based on the judges' evaluation of his/her relative capability to communicate orally, including evidence of a talent to respond effectively in the Q&A period.

A competitor may utilize any available resource but must realize that the presentation is to be an individual effort. Assistance in the use of visual aids is advisable (Powerpoint, etc.). Film clips, if used, may not exceed one-minute total duration (i.e. a maximum of one minute of each student presentation my be used for video). Film clips may not be accompanied by any recorded sound. Good practice and courtesy suggests credit be given during the presentation for any outside help related to the reported project. A written paper or manuscript is not required.


Eligibility and Requirements

To be eligible to participate, each contestant must be a Student Member who:

a. has not yet received an engineering degree* and,
b. has been selected by his/her Student Section or ME Department to participate; and,
c. is a Student Member in good standing.

Note: No more than 2 participants from a college/university can register to participate in the competition at the SPDC

* Student Members who complete the requirements for their baccalaureate engineering degree, or who actually receive that degree at the end of a term, semester, or quarter a short time before a scheduled conference may still participate. These Student Members, however, must not have completed their degree requirements before December 1 of the calendar year prior to the Conference.

At least two (2) weeks before the date of the Conference, each participant's Student Section Advisor of his/her Student Section (or Department Head, if there is no Student Section) shall advise the Student Section Advisor of the host institution and ASME Staff of the names of their contestants and titles of their presentation (ASME Staff can be reached at oldguard@asme.org).


Competition Entry

The Old Guard Oral Presentation Competitions are held locally at ASME Student Professional Development Conferences (SPDCs). Student who wish to participate must:

1. Visit the Student Professional Development Conferences website.

2. Choose the location of the conference he/she plans to attend.

3. Complete the appropriate entry form for that location.

Students entering the Old Guard Oral Competition may not enter the Old Guard Technical Poster Competition. There is no restriction on entering the Old Guard Technical Webpage Competition.


Conduct of the Contest

Each presentation in the Old Guard Competition shall be made by one contestant. Any questions regarding procedure shall be resolved by the Student Section Advisor and ASME staff before the Conference.

The Chair of the Host Student Section usually presides during the contest and ensures that there is adherence to the time schedule given in the printed program. The Presentation's duration is fifteen (15) minutes plus five (5) minutes for Q&A immediately thereafter. Any time remaining or exceeding the fifteen minutes must be added to or subtracted from the five minute discussion. No photographs may be taken during the presentation; photographs may be taken during the question and answer period.

Questions may be asked by any attendee of the competition except those from the competitor's own educational institution. Each person posing a question to a speaker must stand, identify himself/herself and school, and then proceed with the question. The Host Student Section must appoint two timekeepers from two visiting student delegations. Timekeepers must be non-contestant Student Members. They are to be introduced by name and college at the beginning of each session and instructed to keep time as follows:

  • At the end of twelve minutes, the first timekeeper will rise to signal to the speaker that there are three minutes remaining.
  • After the speaker nods to acknowledge the signal, the timekeeper will sit down.
  • At the end of fourteen minutes, the second timekeeper will rise to signal to the speaker that there is one minute remaining.
  • After the speaker acknowledges the signal, the timekeeper will sit down.<./
  • At the end of fifteen minutes, both timekeepers will rise together and remain standing until the speaker concludes the presentation.
  • Both timekeepers will rise at the end of five minutes to terminate the discussion period.


Judging and Scoring Criteria

Each contest is to be judged by the same individuals throughout, preferably ASME members of mature judgment, who are selected along with one or two alternates. Local ASME Sections will be requested to cooperate in the search for judges. As an alternative, some Conferences use one faculty member and one student from each represented school as judges, with the faculty and student not judging presentations from their own school.

The Presentations will be judged in four categories; Content, Organization, Delivery and Effectiveness, and Discussion.


To what extent is the subject of interest to a technical audience? Is credit given for source of material or contribution by others? How much knowledge of subject was exhibited? Is work independent and original? Is the subject technical or general in nature?


Is there any novel approach to the subject? Is there sufficient background information provided in order to introduce the audience to the subject? Are the facts developed in logical and continuous sequence? Is there a definite conclusion, and was it adequately based on the facts or data presented?

Delivery and Effectiveness

Are the words distinctly pronounced and was proper volume used to be heard by all? Is proper English used, and is the vocabulary sufficient? Is personal appearance appropriate? Are there any distracting mannerisms? Is the manner of delivery (conversation, memorized, read from manuscript) satisfactory? If visual aids are used, how effectively are they used? Is the presentation within the time limit of 15 minutes allowed?


Is the presentation evoking spontaneous questions from the audience? Are the questions indicating the need for clarification of facts presented, or were they merely of the type seeking additional information? How readily and with what self-assurance did the speaker answer the questions? Are the answers indicating knowledge of the subject beyond that disclosed in the original presentation? Is the ability to think clearly demonstrated?

Judges are to use the Scoring Sheet provided (see Appendix A) as the basis for judging all the Student Professional Development Conferences. The Scoring Sheet has been developed for the convenience of the judges in evaluating the presentation in competition. Scoring Sheet samples should be sent to the judges for familiarity ahead of the contest. Scoring Sheets are not to be given to the presenters. Judges should be informed that they must agree to serve through the entire contest, be it one or two days.

Judges are encouraged to fill out the Feedback Sheet (see Appendix B) on each student's presentation and give them to the contestants at the conclusion of the presentations. The Feedback Sheet has been developed for the convenience of the judge to assist him/her in this process.


Awards and Recognition

Each Student Member that participates in the competition will receive an ASME membership upgrade to Member, compliments of the Old Guard.

Judges at each conference are to select First, Second, Third and Fourth Place winners based on the criteria specified in the competition score sheet. A Fifth Place winner may be selected, at the judges' discretion. An additional award is available for "Best Technical Content." This prize may be given to one of the top four winners or any other presenter at a conference.


Student Conference (SPDC) Awards Society Awards (Finals at IMECE)
First $500.00 plus a trip to compete in the final
competition at ASME's IMECE
First $2,000.00
Second $150.00 Second $1,500.00
Third $100.00 Third $1,000.00
Fourth $50.00 Fourth $500.00
Fifth $25.00
Technical $50.00


Competition Finals

The winner of the competition at each Student Professional Development Conference (SPDC) is invited to participate in the finals of the Old Guard Oral Presentation Competition. Finals take place at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE) in November.

With the exception of the actions of the timekeeper's actions, the rules for the competition finals are the same as for the competition at the SPDCs.

No substantial changes from the presentation given at the Student Professional Development Conference may be made for the finals at IMECE. Any substantial change of title or major revision of the presentation given at the SPDC will result in disqualification and may result in loss of travel reimbursement.

The final competition at IMECE is judged by a panel of volunteers from within the ASME community, based on the same criteria as the SPDC events. The top four presenters among the finalists are eligible for Society awards. The winners are also recognized at Society events and featured in various ASME publications and web sites.

Travel expenses for attending the final competition will be covered using standard ASME travel reimbursement rules covered by Society Policy P-4.5. A copy of the travel reimbursement expense form may be downloaded from the ASME web site. The URL for this web site is http://www.asme.org/. At the top of the main page, highlight 'About ASME' and click on 'Volunteer Resources' below it. Then you will see a link to 'Volunteer Travel Reimbursement Expense Form' that you may click to bring up the form and an excerpt from Society Policy P-4.5. Reimbursements are limited to a maximum of $1000.00 for winners from SPDC's held in North America (Canada, Mexico, or United States) and limited to a maximum of $1500.00 for winners from SPDC's held outside of North America. The winner is responsible for any expenses above these maximum amounts.

Adopted by the Old Guard Committee
November 17, 2013