The philosophy of the “Warman Design and Build Competition” and some of the challenges of running it are described in this perspective by its National Coordinator since 2003. In particular, the need is for the competition to work effectively across a wide range of student group ability. Not every group engaging with the competition will be competitive nationally, yet all should learn positively from the experience. Reported also in this paper is the collective feedback from the 2006 campus organizers in respect to their use of the competition as an educational experience in their classrooms. Each University participating uses the competition differently with respect to student assessment and the support students receive. However, all academic campus organizer responses to the survey suggest that the competition supports their own learning objectives very well. The competition which was first run in 1988 will have its 20th anniversary final in September this year. While the projects have varied widely over the years, the intent to challenge 2nd year university (predominantly mechanical) engineering students with an open-ended statement of requirements in a practical and experiential exercise has been a constant. Students are faced with understanding their opportunity and their client’s value system as expressed in a scoring algorithm; they are required to conceive, construct and demonstrate their device with limited prior knowledge and experience, and the learning outcomes clearly impact their appreciation for teamwork, leadership and product realization. The competition has been successful due in part to its underpinning by the National Committee on Engineering Design (Engineers Australia), the sponsorship of Weir Minerals and the commitment of many engineering design educators across Australia and New Zealand.