The UK Space Design Competition is a science and engineering challenge designed as a simulation of life in industry.
Teams are given a list of requirements for a space settlement, and have a day to come up with a detailed design which they present to a panel of judges who include experts in the field and representatives of the UK Space Agency.
UKSDC is open to secondary and sixth form students (Years 10 – 13) in the UK, and entry to the competition is via video and regional events. Winning teams from these entry points take part in a residential competition weekend hosted by Imperial College London, and may go from there to the international final at a NASA space center. A series separate Micro-Competitions replicate this experience for younger students in Years 7 – 9.
The aim of the competition is to provide students with the chance to take part in a design simulation that exposes them to the joys and challenges of working in a large industrial team.
Students have to develop a space-based infrastructure that requires complex, challenging, and imaginative thinking leading to an increased interest in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.
“When people asked why I was going on the trip this summer, I told them ‘I’m going to build a space station in two days.’ I thought I was joking. It seems I really wasn’t.” – Former Student
At the UK Final, four companies of up to 50 students compete for a lucrative contract from the fictional Foundation Society to build a settlement somewhere in space. This company will have just 24 hours to design their settlement for more than 10,000 inhabitants, dealing with everything from structural engineering to communications, entertainment to food production, and construction timelines to comprehensive costings. The next day they will present their final design proposal to a panel of expert judges.
“We gained new insight and discovered hidden talents….Many of these skills have become crucial factors in our college lives.” – Former Student
Selected members of the winning team are then invited to represent the UK at the International Final at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.