What to expect
The Space Science Engineering Foundation year starts with regional events for the Space Design Competition in late autumn, followed by the video competition in December; 250 competitors then go forward to the March finals at Imperial College London. Galactic Challenges for younger students are held throughout the year.
Regional Competitions take place on Saturdays, with registration at 8:30 am. The students will attend briefings on different aspects of engineering and management techniques, and will then commence their designs in their designated companies. After presentations and judging, the regional day will finish by 9.30 pm.
The UK Final
See Ed Knowles’ video from the 2018 Finals Competition
The Space Design Competition finals take place over two days at Imperial College London (South Kensington Campus). Registration for the 250 finalists begins the main entrance of 08:30 on Saturday. Following a similar format to the regionals, the students are divided into 5 different companies, each consisting of around 50 students, consisting of four to six school teams. Each company will be mentored by adult CEO’s with extensive competition 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 (RFP). These departments are:
- Structural Engineering
- Operations Engineering
- Human Engineering
- Robotics & Automation Engineering
- Business & Marketing
The SDC is a student led project, and whilst the CEO will facilitate the students in their in their quest to solve problems, they will not provide answers. Structuring the company, appointing its leaders, and answering the RFP is the responsibility of the students. Each department attends a dedicated briefing session where they will learn more about their especial function, and a representative of the Foundation Society will give the RFP to the company president. This document lists all of the requirements that the design must satisfy.
Company headquarters rooms and Imperial College London staff are available until 22:00 when the students depart for their overnight accommodation.
Accommodation is provided by the Space Science & Engineering Foundation on Saturday night. Accommodation on the Friday night is arranged for students traveling from farther away. Contact Jenny Lyons if you require Friday accomadation. Catering is provided by the Space Science & Engineering Foundation.
Final designs must be submitted, with up to 50 power point slides, by the 8:00 am Sunday morning. Judging begins at 9:00 am as each company gives a 35-minute presentation on their design followed by 10 minutes of judges questions. The winners are announced in the afternoon and all activities will be concluded by approximately 17:00.
The International Final
The winning company at UK final is awarded twelve places at The International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC), held at a NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the USA. This typically takes place during the last weekend of July or the first weekend in August, and the vast majority of costs are paid for by the SSEF.
The students in the winning company vote for team members to represent their company at the ISSDC. The results of the voting are combined with the suggestions of the company’s CEOs to produce the final list of 12 plus 4 reserves 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. The competition starts on Friday evening and presentations to the judges are made on Monday.