Back to overview

Nanoline Contest 2014

Why enter the Nanoline Contest?

The Nanoline Contest lets you put your technical skills to the test. The grand prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to Germany. While in Germany, the winning team will present their project at the Hanover Fair’s TectoYou hall. Hanover Fair is the world’s largest industrial tradeshow. TectoYou is a hall dedicated to promoting engineering and technology careers to young people.

Back to top

2014 contest timeline

The Nanoline Contest 2014 kicked off in August 2013. Here are some of the important dates to be aware of:

September 1, 2013
October 18, 2013
Nanoline Contest Launch
Closing Date for Registration
November 1, 2013Educator and mentor updates
December 7, 2013First round selection (Response by December 10)
January 24, 2014PowerPoint / YouTube submittal
February 1, 2014Regional Contests (Selection of National Qualifiers)
February 15, 2014Final Judging & Interview of Teams in Harrisburg (Afternoon) Winner Announcement
February 17-23, 2014
February 25, 2014
Engineers Week in Harrisburg Project is shipped to Germany
April 7 - 11, 2014TectoYou in Hanover, Germany
Back to top

Contest overview

Your team will use the Nanoline and nanoNavigator software to build a working automation system. Students in middle, high or vocational-technical schools based in the continental U.S.A. are eligible for the contest. Maximum team size is six students. All team members must be 18 or younger.

Back to top

What is the Nanoline?

Nanoline is an intelligent and compact controller that automates multiple basic tasks.
It is programmed with the intuitive nanoNavigator software, and no previous programming experience is necessary.

Analog and Digital I/O - The Nanoline controller is well suited to monitoring and controlling both on/off circuits (known as digital I/O) and measurement or control circuits that operate in a range from 0 percent to 100 percent of scale (called analog I/O). Your idea should use these capabilities and apply them in a practical and exciting way for an audience of school students of your own age.

Back to top

How does the Nanoline Controller Work?

Watch this video to see how the Nanoline controller works.

Watch video
Back to top


There are none!

In past competitions your team would have selected an application from one of three categories: Energy efficiency, Robotics or Home control. We are no longer looking at categories, but rather any great idea that uses the Nanoline controller, or multiple Nanoline controllers, and the NanoNavigator software is welcome to compete.

Back to top

Project ideas

The Nanoline controller is used in many practical applications around the world: dispensers, access control, irrigation systems, lighting controls, energy monitoring and the like. The Nanoline controller can be networked via the Internet, SMS, or Wi-Fi media, so it is also appropriate to develop a project that interfaces to an Apple iPad or iPhone, android, PC, or other device. Your mission is to creatively design something novel, appealing and exciting. It is OK to find ideas on the Internet or ask friends and family for suggestions. Just remember the project must be all your own work.

So choose an application that is both practical and fun. If your project can be replicated and built in other school districts, it scores additional points.

Back to top

Starter Kit

After registration and once your team has decided on a project, please e-mail us and we will send you both a Starter Kit and Gift Card. The Starter Kit will contain the material required to get started with your project, and we will also provide you with additional Phoenix Contact product if needed. The Gift Card will allow you to buy non-Phoenix Contact product your project may need. Feel free to look for additional sponsors for materials you require for your project.

Back to top

Judging criteria

Entries will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Excitement and Attractiveness to Teenage students
  • Level of creativity
  • Possibility to replicate at other schools
  • Practicality (conversion to use in daily life)
  • Inspiration and attraction to technology for other students
Back to top

Project size

The project space is a 1 meter by 2 meter (39x78 inches) table top. The project must fit inside an envelope height of 1.2 meters (47 inches). If your design stands on the floor, it may not exceed a height of 1.9 meters (74 inches).

If you wish to network a number of Nanoline controllers, have one based in say the USA, and another positioned in Germany, the project space counts for the unit to be demonstrated in Germany. If required, and properly demonstrated, the use of the flat screen TV on the TecToYou Booth is also allowed as part of your contest entry.

Back to top


To assist you in remembering how your project developed, we ask you to keep a journal of all the events, ideas and decisions your team members make. Keep digital pictures of the team at work on the project. Photos of team members brainstorming and developing software are well worth keeping. Use those details and photos in your presentation.

The judges are looking for original work, so what better way to keep the information handy? Assign one person to manage your team journal. And assign one person to keep your PowerPoint slide set or videos (for future posting on YouTube) up-to-date. Most importantly, create a team name and theme for your project.

After the competition is complete, you might want to publish your journal online, but you’ll probably want to protect your ideas prior to the competition.

Back to top

Other things to consider

  • The Nanoline controller has a GSM/SMS unit that requires a SIM card. If your project wins, we will provide you with a SIM card in Germany that will allow visitors in Germany to interface with your project.
  • If you are using batteries or other consumable elements, we will work with you to ensure that you have a sufficient back-up, chargers and spares.
  • We recommend that you avoid working with any flammable materials, fuel, or open flame. Liquids and fluids should be avoided, unless you will control the project remotely.
  • You may want to demonstrate the project from a distance, and also consider the use of webcam and true remote control. The Nanoline can be networked and connected to the Internet. It has its own IP address, so it can be part of an interesting global installation.
  • The power outlets and voltages in Germany are different than those in the U.S. Don’t worry, we will work with you on converting the electrical connections to both 120 V AC and 240 V AC (50/60 Hz).
  • Please avoid using our corporate logo, slogans on your project. It is your idea that you are promoting, not ours. If in doubt, ask.
Back to top

The grand prize

The winning team will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Germany, where they will display their project at the Hanover Fair TectoYou booth. The team will present their project together with the winners of a parallel contest in Germany. In addition to the 6 team members, two chaperones selected by the winning school will accompany the team on its trip to Germany. All team members must be 18 or younger.

Phoenix Contact will host the team in Germany.  The group will tour Phoenix Contact’s manufacturing operations and will have the chance to see both historical and technical sites in the Blomberg-Lippe and Hanover (Lower Saxony) area of Germany.

No German language skills are required either, but you will need your passport to travel.

Back to top


From April 7 to 11, 2014 the winning U.S. team will be the only international student team at the TectoYou Career pavilion. The pavilion is loud and the excitement intense. Your project must be operational from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. for five days. During that time, more than 7,000 students will visit the TectoYou pavilion, so the project has to last through a week-long barrage of questions, prodding and testing.

The TectoYou Booth at the Hanover Fair is designed to inspire middle, high and technical school students to consider careers in technology. And it introduces German students to career and apprenticeship opportunities at various well known German industrial companies. The Hanover Fair is the only international tradeshow that allows high school students to experience technology in industrial, electronic, electrical and infrastructure careers. Engineering is an exciting career!

Back to top

For parents and educators

The Nanoline contest should be treated as an extramural event. Students’ creativity and technical skills can shine in a team setting. Virtually all careers today require teamwork, creative problem-solving and design freedom. Tomorrow’s knowledge workers do not normally learn these skills in the existing class room environment. Opportunities that let students experience the real world will help them excel both in school and when they enter the workforce.

The contest is ideal for girls and boys who enjoy robotics, computers, mathematics, or technical trades.

Since the Nanoline contest started in 2009, the student participants, along with their parents, educators and siblings, have had the opportunity to get a close-up look at the exciting world of industrial automation. The world of mechatronics, robotics and automation is clean and exciting. It should not be confused with the dirty, dull and dangerous applications of the previous millennium.

Phoenix Contact has a host of electrical and electronic products that could be used with your project. Let us know what you need and we will provide those parts too. More products can be seen our corporate website at

Back to top

About Phoenix Contact and our STEM initiatives

Phoenix Contact is a leading developer of industrial electrical and electronic technology. Founded in 1923 in Germany, Phoenix Contact employs 11,000 people in 47 subsidiaries around the world.

Phoenix Contact USA, founded in 1981, now employs over 500 people in sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing and other related activities. Both the Nanoline controller and the nanoNavigator software were developed in the U.S.A.

Phoenix Contact’s success is built upon the innovative designs of our talented engineers. Our staff wants to share their love of science with young people. The Nanoline Contest is just one of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities that we participate in. Through these programs, we hope that teenagers will see the enormous potential in technical and engineering careers.

Back to top


586 Fulling Mill Road
Middletown, PA 17057
(800) 888-7388

  • Print
  • Send by Email
  • Feedback