Our Team

UKSDC LogoThe UK Space Design Competition Board oversees the arrangements for all competitions.  Board members and technical advisors for the academic year 2017-18 can be found below.



Dr Randall Perry, SSEF & SDC Founder – Chairman


Dr Perry is the founder and Honorary Chair of the Space Science Engineering Foundation (SSEF), a registered UK charity. The SSEF supports the UK and EU Space Design Challenge and the Galactic Challenge. He is a director of the Global Space Science Challenge that runs a 11 day summer camp at Imperial College London. He is a Senior Research Investigator and a past Royal Society Fellow based at Imperial College London. He has a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington, has held the US and Canada National Science Foundation Fellowship at Oxford University, and has a NASA certification in Astrobiology. His current focus is on education. In addition, he has published widely in his areas of interest of geology, geochemistry, microbiology and education. He is the author of four adventure novels. Besides scientific talks he enjoys giving talks to a wide variety of public venues for example being invited to give the Public Lecture at the Durham Institute for Advanced Studies on a Definition of Life and as a painter and member of the Chelsea Art Club an invited talk on Science and Art. He is a director and producer with Athene Films, a Canadian film company whose most recent film is Meet Beau Dick. In his spare time he enjoys trekking, scuba diving and flying helicopters and aircraft. He was the president of a company before finishing a Ph.D. later in life and has since visited many of the Earth’s extreme habitats including diving in ‘Alvin’ the deep submersible. Dr Perry was shortlisted for a Sir Arthur Clarke Award in 2013 for his work on USKDC.  randallsperry rsperry

Jenny Lyons, Director of Education and Outreach and Chair of the SDC Board

Trisha Saxena


A passionate believer in the benefits that practical science brings to school based learning. Jenny has taught in both the private and public sectors, and additionally worked with a variety of agencies to promote and fund the setting up of Science Clubs. Having worked voluntarily for the UK SDC, she is now excited to have the opportunity to extend their project based learning methods to a wider audience, and is looking forward to the launch of the 2017 Galactic Challenge. When not working with UKSDC, Jenny enjoys the great outdoors by taking part in Open Water Swimming challenges, as a member of the UK Wild Camping group, and as an assessor and trainer for the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

Jian He, 2017-2018 Organising Chair and SSEF Co Chair

Jian He Jian Heseri started volunteering with UKSDC in 2009,first as a supporting technical specialist, and later on as judge and “company” CEO.  After completing his Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, he currently works as a reliability engineer in the petroleum industry, specialising in technical risk management and system reliability solutions in the hostile underwater environment.  The best treat for his volunteering weekends is seeing creative ideas from young candidates coming together into designs.

Helen Oliver, Trustee Representative

Helen Oliver Helen Oliver is a Research Associate in the Networks and Operating Systems Group at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. She has been volunteering as a Judge and Technical Expert with the UKSDC since 2011, when she was working in the Design Engineering Group at Imperial College London. She has been a Judge at the International Finals at both NASA Johnson and NASA Kennedy. She is the original developer of designVUE, a concept mapping software application for capturing design rationale which was subsequently used in a project at NASA Ames to analyze a case study of system failure. Her current research interests include the Internet of Things, personal data stores and privacy by design, and wearable technology.

Dr Richard Ghail, SSEF Chair and Trustee Representative

Richard Ghail is Lecturer in Engineering Geology, based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, with research interests in The London Basin Forum, Intraplate Processes and the Neotectonics of Great Britain, Plate Tectonics of Buoyant Lithospheres and EnVision.

Adam Braithwaite, Trustee Representative

Adam completed his Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Imperial College in the summer of 2015, and is now a quantitative strategist at Goldman Sachs focused on pricing and modelling of derivative products across the securities business. In his scarce free time, he enjoys flying, scuba diving, and stealing unattended pizza at the competition finals.

Adam was the UKSDC organising chair for 2013/14.

Evan Meyrick, Galactic Challenge Representative

Evan Meyrick Evan has been involved with the UK Space Design Competition since 2012, and deeply enjoys helping others further their learning. After completing a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College London, he currently works as a systems engineer specialising in information security for unmanned air vehicles and communications networks, with a wider interest in global security and counter terrorism.

Evan was the UKSDC organising chair for 2015/16 and is now chair of the Galactic Challenge organising committee.

Trisha Saxena, Alumni Representative

 Trisha Saxena Trisha first took part in the UKSDC in 2014 as a participant, and although her team won she did not have the chance to go to the Kennedy Space Center. This motivated her to try once more in 2015, when her team won again and this time she had the chance to represent the UK at the International competition. Since then she has been involved with the regional and micro competition heats as a judge and CEO. She is currently in her second year at Imperial College London, studying Physics, and hopes to one day work for the UK Space Agency.

Trisha is the SDC social media board coordinator.         Trisha was the UKSDC organising chair for 2016/17.


Nich Fletcher, Volunteer Representative

UKSDC Finals 2015. Photography © Bluefax Studios Nicholas is an IT Quality Management Systems Consultant, specialising in high integrity software development. He started his first IT company in 1988. He has worked in the UK Defence industry on projects that include Harriers, Tornados, Eurofighters, Merlins, and Hawks (Red Arrows). He has also worked in the UK and European finance sectors for players such as SWIFT, Clearstream, LCH.Clearnet, and UBS. In contrast, Nicholas has also worked in the civilian aerospace, air traffic management, power distribution & transmission, and more recently the space sectors. He is currently working on some European Space Agency projects with the satellite Prime Contractor Airbus DS for the Solar Orbiter and Aeolus projects, and has provided inputs to several other satellite system projects.
Nicholas specialises in the design of software development processes that support the adoption of multiple international standards, often providing companies with a competitive advantage that results from an integrated set of IT processes. He has worked with the UKSDC since 2013 as a CEO or Judge at regional heats and finals. His primary role on the UKSDC Board is to support the expansion of the SDC into other countries around Europe, which will ultimately provide a richer experience for the students in future competitions. The rewards he gets for supporting the UKSDC is when students suddenly recognise that what they want to study at university is to become part of the space industry workforce.

Louis Lyle, Alumni Representative

Louis Lyle Louis recently finish a degree in Mathematics and Statistics at the University of York and has been involved in the competition since 2011. He was the head of the Human engineering section of the winning team in 2014 and was one of the twelve chosen to represent the UK at the international final in Florida. Louis has since volunteered for both the 2015 and 2016 competitions and has held a number of roles varying from technical specialist, to judge, to CEO at last year’s final. He is also the Science and Technology section editor for one of his university’s student newspapers and is an avid member of many scientific societies.

Louis is the SDC news letter board coordinator.

Nadia Torre Gjerdingen, Social Media Director


Nadia is in the first year of a Mechanical engineering degree at Imperial College Having first come across the competition in 2014, she threw herself into the chaos of a video heat, regional competition and a national final throughout her sixth form. She helped to organise and launch the first ever Galactic Challenge, and is now excited to expand on this idea to see how it develops on a national scale.
Outside of the UKSDC and course studies, Nadia is on a Target Rifle Shooting team and, through university societies, gets to  enjoy every form of dance under the sun.

Alexander Turley-Pound, Webmaster


Alexis a second year mechanical engineering student at the University of Warwick. He first became involved in the competition through a video entry in 2015, before going on to be a member of the winning companies at the 2015 and 2016 UKSDC finals. Following the 2016 UKSDC, Alex was part of the UK team at the ISSDC, and was a member of the winning company. More recently, he volunteered at the 2017 UKSDC final as a technical specialist.