Video Competition

How does it work?

 If you can’t make it to one of our regional heats this year, you can still enter the UKSDC through our video competition! Teams are invited to submit a three minute video detailing a design to fulfil a Request for Proposal (see below) set by the fictional Foundation Society.
9th September 2019 at 12:00 GMT

Video competition launches and RFP is released.

12th December 2019 at 12:00 GMT

Initial (optional) deadline for submissions. Any submissions received will be checked for URL functionality etc.

21st December 2019 at 23:59 GMT

Final deadline for submissions.

20th January 2020 at 10:00 GMT

Results are released!

Request for Proposal

Date of Issue: 09-09-2086
The Foundation Society has announced its intention to construct an expandable subsurface transport system on the planet Mercury, able to travel up to 1000 km between stops. This system will transport consumables, equipment and people between the pre-existing mining settlements located in lava tubes around the planet.
  1. Proposals must include details of a general purpose tunnel design, its construction, and specify its depth below the surface.
  2. Supply details of the transport system that will run inside the tunnels and the mechanism by which it is propelled. The system must be able to transport up to 200 people or 15 CASSSCs (4.5 m by 4.5 m by 9 m Cargo Accommodations Standard Space Shipping Containers, massing 30,000 kg each). The minimum load will be 3 people or one CASSSC. Stowage for cargo should be shown as well as interior designs for human habitable compartments.
  3. Show loading/boarding procedures for the system.
  4. The top speed of the system must be at least 75 m/s. The proposal should state the minimum and maximum power needed for the above load cases. Arrangements for power supply should be described.
  5. Details of the destination choosing system should be included alongside provision for the system to be used for transport in both directions.
  6. Example emergency procedures should be detailed and the time taken for a journey of 500 km stated.

An external electrical power supply of 15 kW may be installed in the tunnel, to be provided by the mining settlements along the route for the complete length of the tunnel. This allowance may be increased to 100 kW within 5 km of settlements. Power requirements beyond these provisions must be satisfied by the design. Fusion Founders, the industry leaders in fusion power, have stated that they do not believe it to be currently safe to allow fusion reactors on board such a high speed transport system and that any nuclear reactor installed on Mercury would require maintenance and servicing at least every 672 working hours.


  1. Teams may consist of no more that 12 students, all between Years 10 and 13 (or equivalent).
  2. A photograph, or photographs, of all team members must be included at the end of the video submission. Please consider the privacy of everyone involved with any information you share in your video and consult your school’s policy if appropriate. If you choose to upload your video publicly, please take extra care over data you intentionally or may inadvertently share. We will not use any information about the team from your video to register you for the national finals; we will contact you for this purpose if your entry is among the winners selected by the judges. It is against the rules to swap or add team members between your submission and the national finals.
  3. Video submissions must be no longer in duration than three minutes. Any submissions longer than this limit will be handled at the judges discretion. Judges are aware that YouTube can slightly alter the duration of a video. Videos must be easily intelligible, with an audio track at no more than 1.25 times recorded speed.
  4. Judges will evaluate submissions on their effectiveness at meeting the above Request For Proposal (RFP). For each RFP requirement, submissions will be evaluated on their scientific accuracy, feasibility, communication, innovation, and creativity. Entrants are expected to make reasonable assumptions about aspects not covered by the RFP, but content not required by the RFP will not receive extra credit beyond contextual clarity.
  5. Teams should upload their video to YouTube (either publicly or privately, note that your ability to do this will be based on the permissions set on individual computers) and include the working link and a contact email address in the submission form below before the deadline at 23:59 GMT December 13th 2019. The judges will only accept submissions entered in this format. We will seek to contact you before the deadline if your link does not work, however we can only do so for submissions before 12:00 GMT December 12th 2019. For this reason please double check your contact email address is correct and is an account you check regularly. We will only contact you if there is a problem or a query, so please don’t worry if you don’t hear from us: it’s a good sign! If you have difficulties or problems with the submission or other questions regarding the video competition please email us at but please be aware that we may not be able to respond in time for the deadline for emails received after 12:00 GMT December 12th 2019.


Thank you to all the teams who put so much time and effort into their video competition entries last year; the judges were staggered by both the ingenuity of and diversity in the designs proposed. We were impressed by the thoroughness of research surrounding the propulsion of the transport system and the viability  of the proposed tunnel designs. The quality of production and communication in so many of your videos was exemplary. We hope that you found the challenge interesting and rewarding! Overall, the judges noticed a few areas for development: the tunnel depth in some cases was unfeasibly deep, fusion power was sometimes used without adequate provision for maintenance as was required, and that some entries did not meet the rules of the competition.

Unfortunately, we cannot invite all of the teams who entered through to the UK Final but we would like to offer a special mention to two teams and invite four winners to compete at Imperial College in March. Please don’t feel disheartened if you haven’t made it to the finals this year; the quality of competition was exceedingly high and we encourage you to take part in the next academic year or even become one of our alumni volunteers.

Special Mentions:
Sevenoaks School
St Mary Redcliffe Sixth Form

UKSDC 2019-20 Video Competition Winners:
Eltham College
St Augustine’s Priory
Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School for boys
Waid Academy
Wycombe High School

If your team can no longer make it to the UKSDC National Final at Imperial College London on 14th-15th March, please let or know as soon as possible! In this case we will invite one of the teams to whom we gave a special mention the opportunity to compete.

It is the UKSDC’s policy not to offer commentary on any individual entry and the judges’ decision is final. Each entry was judged twice and graded on its fulfilment of the RFP. The highest scoring videos were then passed to two members of the board who chose the winning entries.