Process for Administering Distributed Academic Competitions

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Process for Administering Academic Competitions

Princeton Docket #09-2564

Academic competitions, such as a “Science Bowl,” involve dozens of teams. Several matches are played simultaneously in different rooms on the site.  Administering the match and advancing teams to subsequent rounds is challenging.  Researchers at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University have developed a process which articulates and streamlines the process while enhancing the awareness of players, officials, and spectators.  The displayed presentation of the scoreboard clock is a significant improvement over hand-written results.

The automated score keeping system eliminates errors, reinforces the flow of the match, and presents the results clearly.  The game clock shows the time remaining in the match.  Two additional timers show the time remaining to answer the current question.  These timers simplify and improve accuracy for the person operating the scoreboard clock.  Previously time keeping and score keeping required two people.  This new system requires only one operator and eliminates arithmetic and procedural errors.

When a round is completed the results are electronically transmitted to the central coordinator.  The results arrive immediately to eliminate the delay caused by manual delivery.  This facilitates planning the next round for the teams.

A digital database of all results for the entire competition is recorded.  The database can be analyzed to determine the teams’ strengths and weaknesses.  It also shows the cumulative responses so the degree of difficulty of the questions can be assessed.

All these features significantly improve the process and flow of a competition.  The system is also useful to teams during the preparation and practice for an event.  It reinforces and helps the teams learn the rules.


·         Academic competitions


·         Sporting competitions



·         Increased awareness of state of play


·         Time-keeping and score-keeping simultaneously


·         Reduces errors and increases accuracy

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL)


The U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is a Collaborative National Center for plasma and fusion science. Its primary mission is to develop the scientific understanding and the key innovations which will lead to an attractive fusion energy source. Associated missions include conducting world-class research along the broad frontier of plasma science and providing the highest quality of scientific education.



Eliot Feibush is a scientist in the Computational Plasma Physics Group at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He is developing software to visualize data from fusion experiments and simulations.  His visualization work includes designing and installing the Display Wall in the Princeton University Lewis Science Library and the collaborative display in the PPPL Control Room.  Prior to joining PPPL, he has developed graphics, visualizations, and user interfaces for architectural design, medical imaging, and geospatial/situational awareness applications. He has published journal articles on modeling, rendering, and visualization. Eliot received his B. Architecture (1979) and M.S. in computer graphics (1981) from Cornell University.

Andrew Zwicker is the Head of the Science Education Department at PPPL. A Fellow of the American Physical Society, The American Association of Physics Teachers has named him to its list of 75 leading contributors to physics education. He is currently the Editor of the APS Forum on Physics and Society's newsletter and a past chair of that Forum. Additionally, he is a past member of the APS Committee on Education. At Princeton University he is a lecturer in the Writing Program and a faculty advisor for freshmen and sophomores.  He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.


Princeton is seeking to identify appropriate partners for the further development and commercialization of this technology.


Michael R. Tyerech, Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-6762•

Laurie Bagley, Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-5579•



Patent Information:
Computers and Software
For Information, Contact:
Michael Tyerech
former Princeton Sr. Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Eliot Feibush
Andrew Zwicker
James Morgan
Benjamin Phillips