Space Center Houston will partner with the Conrad Foundation to expand the reach and host the final stage of the annual science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, focused Conrad Challenge, according to a release.

The challenge offers teams of students a chance to create innovations designed to solve important problems through an entrepreneurial process that culminates in a live pitch competition. The competition will be held at Space Center Houston in April for the 2022-23 challenge, according to the challenge’s website.

"Space Center Houston is honored to carry the torch forward of the Conrad Challenge in partnership with the Conrad Foundation,” said William T. Harris, CEO and president of Space Center Houston, in the release. “We are inspired by the work of Nancy Conrad, a transformative space education leader promoting STEM skills and innovation. We will continue to keep her vision alive by bringing people and space closer together.”

Innovations by former challenger teams include virtual reality educational tools, sound-based fire extinguishers and microplastic density detection for ocean pollution, according to the challenge’s website.

“After 17 years of equipping students to design a sustainable future, this partnership is an exciting step forward,” Conrad Foundation Founder Nancy Conrad said in the release. “Space Center Houston shares our passion for transforming education to foster the next generation of leaders. We are thrilled to work together to expand the Conrad Challenge.”

The top teams will compete to receive access to scholarships, patent assistance for their innovations and other awards. The finalists for the 2022-23 challenge come from all across the world, including the United States, Korea, Thailand, Japan and Panama.

“We don’t know what the workforce is going to look like in five years,” Conrad said. “We’re creating a whole generation of agile thinkers—young people who not only can participate in what tomorrow looks like, but can also pivot in an ever-changing environment, because they understand how to think, how to learn and how to work collaboratively.”

Space Center Houston and the Conrad Foundation will work together during the ongoing 2022-23 challenge and 2023-24 challenge to create an advisory committee under the center’s leadership. The organizations plan to make the competition a part of the center’s educational program brand by the 2024-25 challenge, according to the release.