The first annual THINK competition was launched in 2008 as a pilot project under MIT's Techfair. Upon its first year's kick-off, THINK welcomed the submission of various projects and proposals that met our mission. The applications came from across the United States, covering a wide spectrum of disciplines. A prestigious panel of judges reviewed the submitted materials in two rounds. First, semifinalists were selected by current MIT students, including editors of MIT research journals and past finalists of national and international high school competitions. During the second round, MIT professors reviewed the semifinalist applications and chose three finalists.

The THINK competition continued its success in 2009, 2010, and 2011, introducing three new submission categories: Homegrown Projects, Lab Projects, and Idea Proposals. With increased sponsorships and a growing number of submissions nationwide, we awarded more applicants by acknowledging six semifinalists and three finalists. However, after examining the efforts of other organizations and competitions with similar motivations, the THINK team then realized that the competition shared a space with many other similar science and engineering research competitions. In order to increase impact of our efforts on students, we designed the THINK Scholars Program for 2012 onward.