Student Optical Design Challenge

Students design solutions for tomorrow's immersive display products
Winners of the 2023 Challenge

SPIE AR | VR | MR Student Optical Design Challenge

The SPIE AR | VR | MR Student Optical Design Challenge is designed to encourage and acknowledge excellence in oral and poster student presentations and bridge the gap between traditional academic optics and industry expectations for today’s immersive display products.

The main element of the challenge is the 3-minute “pitch” in which the participants present their design with an explanation of how it best overcomes the selected challenge.  A jury comprised of industry leaders, technical experts from sponsoring organizations, and leading academic figures in AR, VR, and MR adjudicate the challenge presentations. 

Thanks to generous sponsorship, the top three participants receive monetary prizes awarded on the AR | VR | MR Main Stage.

How to participate


Students interested in participating in the 2024 AR | VR | MR Optical Design Challenge must submit an abstract to the Optical Architectures for Displays and Sensing in Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality (AR, VR, MR) V conference.  More details for participation will be provided once participants are notified of acceptance into the conference program later this year.

See the SPIE AR | VR | MR Call for Papers for more information.

Benefits to participating students


This challenge provides a unique opportunity for students to demonstrate design skills and gain exposure to some of the industry's top companies.

Participant information and a description of all projects will be listed on the SPIE AR | VR | MR website and in conference program materials, and submitted papers will be published in SPIE Proceedings.

Winners will be acknowledged at the event during an awards presentation as well as online at the conference conclusion and may be highlighted in SPIE media.

Monetary prizes will be awarded as follows:

1st: $3,000-$5,000

2nd: $1,500-$2,500

3rd: $750-$1,250

Frequently asked questions:


In order to be eligible for the SPIE AR | VR | MR Student Optical Design Challenge, the presenter must also register, attend, and give a technical talk in the SPIE Optical Architectures for Displays and Sensing in Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality (AR, VR, MR) V conference.

The optical design software is at the choice of the student. However, participating sponsors may be offering their optical design software available for use to any student registering in this challenge. More details will be announced in the instructions sent to participants.

Yes, any number of them, from either academy or industry, but the primary author /presenter must be a registered full-time student.