The University Physics Competition 
1. The Faculty Sponsor: To participate in the University Physics Competition, each team must be sponsored by a faculty member at their institution who will serve as the team sponsor. It is the responsibility of the team sponsor to confirm that the students are enrolled at this institution, that they are eligible to participate, and attest that the team will follow the contest rules. The sponsor does not have to physically monitor the team throughout the entire 48 hour contest.  Before the contest begins, the sponsor may prepare the team, by doing such things as discussing problem solving strategies and suggesting useful resources.  After the contest begins and the problems have appeared, the sponsor may not make any contributions.  After the contest begins, the students may not consult with their sponsor or any other person outside their team.  A faculty member may serve as the sponsor for more than one team in this competition. There is no restriction on the number of teams that a faculty member may advise.

2. Registering for the Contest: All teams must be officially registered on this website and pay the registration fee at least six hours before the contest begins.  Early registration, at a reduced registration fee, must be completed at least 7 days before the contest begins.  Teams will receive an e-mail assigning them a Team Number within two business days of submitting their registration, and not less than 3 hours before the contest begins.  At the time of registration the names of the students on the team must be listed. If the faculty sponsor needs to make any change in the names of the students on a team, please e-mail Once the contest begins, the team members may not be changed.  There is no limit to the number of teams that may be fielded by an institution.  If a team cannot participate in the contest, we will refund the registration fee if the refund is requested before the contest begins.  Once the contest begins, no refunds can be issued.

3. The Team: Each team may consist of a maximum of three students (thus teams of two or even one student are permitted). Each student may participate on only one team. Team members must be enrolled at the time of the contest, but they need not be full-time students. Team members must be enrolled at the same institution as the faculty sponsor and other team members. This institution may be any post-secondary institution, university or college. Team members must not possess a bachelor’s degree in any STEM field (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

4. The Problems: The problems will be posted on this website, when the contest begins. Two problems will be available. Teams may submit a solution to only one of the two problems posed.

5. Solution Papers: All teams must prepare a formal paper, written in English, in which they explain their work.  The paper must list the team number at the top of each page, but the paper must not contain the names of the students, their institution, or any other identifying information.  The first page of the paper should contain only four items, (1) the team number, (2) the problem selected ("A" or "B"), (3) the title of the paper, and (4) a summary, no longer than 300 words in length, which will be an abstract providing key details of the work performed, answers to the questions posed, final numbers, results and conclusions. The body of the paper, which follows this first page, may be of any length necessary to report the team's work. During the contest, teams may use books, journals, computers, the Internet, programs that they write, or any other nonliving resources, but they may not consult with any people outside of their team. No contribution may be made by the faculty sponsor, or any other individuals other than the three students.  Although the problems will be intended for a theoretical analysis, teams are permitted to conduct relevant experiments and present any resulting data in their paper.  Each paper must include a list of references used, as well as make in-text citations to these resources. Papers may use existing algorithms and computational tools (including not only freely available tools, but also tools within systems like Matlab or Mathematica), as long as these are correctly referenced, cited, and the methods are clearly explained within the paper.  Papers may include equations, graphs, figures, and tables.  Any computer programs written may be included as an appendix to the paper, however all algorithms, methods and results must be explained in the main text of the paper to receive consideration during judging. Each paper must include at minimum (1) a restatement and clarification of the problem as interpreted by the team, (2) an explanation of all assumptions and approximations made, (3) justification for all work performed, as well as (4) a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach taken.

6. Submit Solutions: Papers may be submitted as pdf, doc, or docx files. Each team must e-mail their paper to and papers must be received before the contest ends. The contest ends exactly 48 hours after it begins. If a team’s paper is not received via email by this deadline, the team will not be considered for medal ranking.  If a properly registered team submits a paper that is received slightly after the 48 hour deadline, then the judges may choose to rank this paper as an accomplished competitor.  However, to receive a medal ranking, a paper must be received before the 48 hour deadline has elapsed.  The filename of the paper should be the team number followed by the problem letter, for example 778A.pdf or 832B.doc.  The team number should be stated both in the subject heading of the email, and in the text of the email.  The entire paper must be included as an attachment to the email.  Do not submit a link to the paper on a cloud service such as Google Docs.  

7. Results: After the contest, all papers will be judged and ranked. The best approximately 2% of papers will be ranked as gold medal winners. The next 15 - 20% of papers will be ranked as silver medal winners. The next 25 - 30% of papers will be ranked as bronze medal winners, and 50 - 60% of papers will be ranked as accomplished competitors.  After the results are issued, each successfully participating team will receive a certificate. The certificate will be mailed to the team sponsor at the address used during the registration process.  Please allow several weeks after the results are announced to receive your certificate.

8. The Director: The University Physics Contest Director is the final arbiter of all rules and policies, and may disqualify any team that in the Director’s sole discretion has violated the contest rules.