The McKinney Writing Contest is NOT cancelled!  However, we are no longer accepting entries.  Given that Rensselaer classes have moved online, we revised instructions for submitting entries for the Contest.  Since campus is closed, we accepted mailed-in entries, and the due date was March 17th.  Winners will receive a phone call or email on April 28, 2020.

* For Electronic Media entries, there is no change. Follow the existing instructions.

If you have any questions, please email Barbara Lewis at

Please be sure to include a completed entry form with each submission.  Keep copies of everything you submit.

The McKinney Committee reserves the right to retain for its files one copy of each winning entry for future reference by competitors and McKinney Committee members.


Students can submit up to two separate entries in any single category: Poetry, Short Fiction/Drama, Essay/Creative Nonfiction, and Electronic Mixed Media Using Language. Students can submit separate entries in multiple categories. Students, however, are limited to one award in each category.

Each separate entry in any single category must consist of one work, except in poetry. A single poetry entry may consist of one to eight poems.

All entries must be original work and not have been previously published. Material that has previously received a McKinney Award may not be resubmitted. 

Print Media

Each single entry of poetryshort fiction/drama, and essay/creative nonfiction should be enclosed in a 9" x 12" envelope (envelopes available in Sage 3502) and should include the following:

  • ONE (1) copy of the completed entry form ( PDF ) (ONE ENTRY FORM FOR EACH SEPARATE ENTRY) that can be downloaded from the RPI McKinney Writing Contest site and
  • THREE (3) copies of each submitted entry, printed on standard 8.5" x 11" paper, single-sided and double-spaced. Poems do not need to be double-spaced.  Staple together the pages that comprise each submitted entry. (If your entry is comprised of only one page, no staple is necessary.)
  • Do not staple the entry form to your submitted entry.

The first page of your entry should contain the title of your work and the contest category to which you're submitting but not your name. Number all pages, and before each page number, type your entry title. For a poetry entry consisting of more than one poem, either use one of the poem titles as an entry title or compose an overall title for the collected poems submitted.

Write "McKinney Contest" on the outside of your envelope. Please do not bend or fold your entries. Bring the envelope to Sage 3502 and put it into the box marked for McKinney Contest Submissions.  Print Media entries cannot be submitted via email.

Electronic Mixed Media Using Language

This category asks for any artistic visualization using words as a dominant element to convey a story, message, or experience. Fiction, drama, poetry, creative nonfiction, and essays using electronic mixed media are encouraged, as are all forms of visual communication that emphasize words in 2-d, 3-d, or 4-d. Examples include interactive narratives, motion graphics, audio-visual art, games, animations, net art, storybooks, comics, and writing that incorporates photographs or illustrations—handmade art or prints may be scanned and submitted as a digital file.

Entries must conform to the following technical specifications to be judged:

     • Formats: pdf, jpeg, gif, mov, avi, mp4, or html
     • Video length: 10 min. maximum.

To help guide your submission, technical and evaluation criteria follow:

  • The level of challenge undertaken in creating and integrating language into a mixed media work (Words must be concretely present in the work. They cannot serve only as the inspiration.)    
  • The work's overall clarity in oral/visual communication (Optional: An intent statement is a helpful accompaniment to your submission, as it clarifies your goals and offers additional work with language: 500 words maximum, double-spaced.)
  • The technical execution of the work (Can it be opened? Does it "work?")
  • Craft (Is it aesthetically pleasing?)
  • Originality (Is it creative?)
  • Coherence/Unity/Harmony (Does it hang together as a whole? Does the visual work effectively with the oral or written language?)     

By E-Mail (For Electronic Media submissions only)
Attach the following:

  • ONE (1) copy of the completed entry form ( PDF ) for each submission and
  • The entry, in one of the formats listed above. For videos or other web entries, include an Internet URL for your entry (e.g., in the body of the email. Links to large files on Vimeo or YouTube are encouraged as long as they don’t contain the author’s name.

On the first screen of your entry submission, include your title and category but not your name. YOUR NAME SHOULD NOT APPEAR ANYWHERE ON YOUR SUBMISSION.

Send both the completed entry form and entry or URL to Barbara Lewis, Please type "McKinney Contest Electronic Media Submission" on the Subject line of your e-mail message.

A return e-mail will be sent to you to acknowledge receipt of the entry. If you do not receive such an e-mail, please call Barbara Lewis (x 3344) to verify that your entry has been received.