What to Expect

What to Expect

This page is aimed at students and supervisors attending the competition. Information for parents and carers can be found here. If you have any concerns not covered in this page, please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Regional Heats

The format for Regional Competitions and Galactic Challenges varies depending on the constraints of the venue, but is largely the same as that described below for the UK Final, condensed into one day. Regional competitions generally start at 8.30 am with registration, and finish at 9.30 pm after the presentations and judging. Galactic Challenges follow a similar format, but finish earlier in the day, at around 5 pm.

The UK Final

Registration begins at the main entrance of Imperial College London (South Kensington Campus) at approximately 08:30 on the first day.

Students are divided into 5 different companies each consisting of around 50 students from a variety of different schools and backgrounds. Each company will be mentored by an adult Executive Chair, with extensive managerial experience.

The first job of each company is to choose a student president and to appoint members and directors of each of the five departments required to satisfy the Request for Proposal. These departments are:

  • Structural Engineering
  • Operations Engineering
  • Human Engineering
  • Robotics & Automation Engineering
  • Business & Marketing

The CEO gives recommendations as to how to do this but, ultimately, structuring the company and appointing its leaders is the responsibility of the students. Each department attends a dedicated briefing session where they will learn more about their special function, and a representative of the Foundation Society offers a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the company president. This document lists all of the requirements that the design must satisfy.

Competitors are expected to work on their designs until at least 17:00 on the first day, but facilities and staff will be available at Imperial College until 22:00 when the campus closes. These facilities include a company headquarters, paper, pens, a design library, and a scanner. After 22:00, students are expected to retire to their hotel rooms. The day does not necessarily end there though and, in the past, many successful companies have opted to work on their designs proposals right through the night as well. Hotel shift work is usually a necessity!

Accommodation is provided by the Space Science & Engineering Foundation on Saturday night. We can also arrange accommodation on the Friday night if necessary. (Contact j.lyons@uksdc.org if this is the case). Catering is provided by the Space Science & Engineering Foundation with kind support from Imperial College London, the UK Space Agency and Royal Academy of Engineering. We are also grateful for the support of the Dangoor Education and the Penelope Foundation throughout the finals.

Final designs must be submitted, in the form of a 30-50 slide presentation, by the early morning of the second day. Judging begins at approximately 09:00 as each company gives a 30-minute presentation on their design. The winners are announced in the early afternoon and all activities will be concluded by approximately 17:00 on the second day.

The International Final

The winning company at UK final is awarded twelve places at The International Space Settlement Design Competition held at a NASA space centre in the USA. This typically takes place during the last weekend in July or the first weekend in August, and the vast majority of costs are paid for by the competition organisers and its sponsors. We are especially thankful for the support of Trailfinders Chairman, Mike Gooley.

The students in the winning company vote for each other, and the results of this are combined with the suggestions of the company’s volunteer CEOs to produce the final list of 12 for the UK’s international team. The majority of the team is selected from the results of the students’ vote, and the UKSDC organising committee will only intervene to alter this in exceptional circumstances.

The experience at ISSDC is very similar to that at UKSDC, but each company consists of students from all around the world, and faces a more complex task. There is a full extra day to work on the proposal before presenting it to the judges, so there’s plenty of time to iron out any problems.