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Prize Competition

The Prime Engineering Prize Competition is a biannual event that provides students in mechanical engineering an opportunity to showcase their skills by solving real-world engineering problems related to next-generation clean nuclear energy. The competition challenges students to use SolidWorks and Ansys or Abaqus Finite Element Analysis to analyze the stress in a nuclear pressure vessel and submit their solutions. It is open to undergraduate and graduate students, providing a chance for young engineers to gain recognition and potentially secure an internship or full-time position at Prime Engineering. The competition offers a grand prize of $1000, the Annual Problem Solver Trophy, and it also recognizes the importance of safety and the critical role of analysis in the nuclear industry.


A free student version of Ansys can be obtained below.

Download Ansys Student | Workbench-based Simulation Tools


You are assigned the task to determine 1) the thickness of a circular flat plate based on an allowable stress intensity of 2.5ksi and 2) the membrane and bending stress intensities at the junction between the flat plate and pipe by use of a stress classification line.

The vessel is constructed from AISI 304H and consists of an ASME B16.5 Weld Neck Flange size 16 NPS Sch 40 that is welded to a pipe of size 16 NPS Sch 40 and then welded to a flat circular plate of 24” of unknown thickness. Assume the outer edge of the 24” diameter plate is fixed.

​Use SolidWorks to model the vessel and then use Ansys or Abacus to perform a finite element analysis with the following conditions:

  • Internal pressure: 300 psi

  • Temperature: 1200°F, adiabatic conditions



  • A drawing showing dimensions of the pressure vessel

  • A one page report identifying the bending and membrane stress intensities using a stress classification line (SCL)

  • Proposed thickness of flat plate

Email to with Prize in the subject line. Include your resume and statement of purpose to be considered for an internship or full-time position. 


This competition is open to any one person that is currently enrolled in an ABET accredited program for a bachelors or master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering that is 18 years of age or older, and residents of VT, NY, NH, ME, MA, CT, or RI, or attending UVM. Any one person meeting this criterion may enter the contest by following the instructions on this webpage under the heading Deliverables. Only one award will be provided and the winner will be selected based on correctness of solution, timing of solution, and overall presentation of solution. The competition begins October 30th 2023 and submissions will not be accepted after December 1st, 2023 at 11:59pm. No costs or expenses will be reimbursed by Prime Engineering.  The winner will be announced on December 6th, 2023. Participants agree to all terms and condition herein including award presentation on LinkedIn and other sites. The prize is not transferable. Participants are not guaranteed a position at Prime Engineering. Previous winners and runner ups are not eligible.

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