Day three for many of the students ran straight on from day two with only a pause for a shower and to put on a smart change of clothes. For the assorted accompanying teachers/parents/chaperones, it’s always astonishing to see how much work these groups of teenagers can produce in such a short time. Much if not all of Sunday night is spent with students piled into hotel rooms in their business sections (management, marketing, human factors, operations, automation and structures) frantically trying to put the finishing touches to their design. The companies must submit an electronic copy of their proposal on a usb key and a printed copy to a competition official at 7.30 on the Monday morning.
The final presentations are always nerve-wracking. The company has 35 minutes in which to present 50 slides and convince the judges that their design not only fulfils the requirements,
but will provide the best living experience for the 12,000 humans heading to Venus to live and work on this station. Figuring out which key pieces of information out of the hours and hours of calculation, deliberation and discussion should fit into this is extremely challenging. After the 35 minutes (which are made a whole lot more nerve-wracking by Antia waving cards with a countdown of the remaining time at the presenters at rapidly decreasing intervals) the judging panel has 10 minutes in which to question the team and tease out the reasons for various decisions.
Between the end of the last presentation at 12.30 and 5pm, the judges hide themselves away to review the proposals and craft their decision. During this time, the students get to explore Space Center Houston (tickets kindly provided by Anita). Part museum, part activity center here the students can try flight simulators, learn about the history of the space programme and take some fascinating tours of the Johnson Space Center that take in things like astronaut training facilities and the Apollo 18 rocket.