The UK Space Design Challenge is organized and funded by the Space Science & Engineering Foundation (registered charity number 1142329) along with generous support from other sponsors.
The UK Space Design Competition is a science and engineering challenge designed as a simulation of life in industry. Students form a company that they run through their own management and engineering team. The Foundation Society based 60 years in the future request a design proposal (RFP) with specific parameters for a settlement in space or on a planetary body. The individual companies are made up of an elected president, vice president of marketing and heads of engineering in four area; Operations, Human, Structural and Automation. The companies product is a slide show presentation. Companies 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. Professional engineers and scientists assist the students, however the running of the company and the designs are the students own work.
The UKSDC runs regional challenges, in the late fall for years 10-13 students, held at universities throughout the UK. The regional competitions are held on a Saturday. Approximately 225 regional regional competition winners proceed to the UK National Finals held at Imperial College London in mid March each year where the students form 5 companies of approximately 45 students each. The competition is held on a weekend. The winning company selects 12 students to represent their company and proceed to the International Competition (ISSDC) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center the following summer, near the end of July. The ISSDC is is similar to the UK finals, except that it starts on a Friday evening and the presentations are judged on Monday.
A video competition is held near the end of the year with entries accepted in early fall. Similar to all the challenges, the video has a RFP. However, the students make a 3 minute video entry answering the RFP. Video Challenges allow students that are unable to attend a regional a chance to gain entry to the UK National Finals.
The SSEF also sponsors the EU space Design Challenges. Students are welcome to enter from anywhere in Europe, including the UK.The winning company of 45 students selects 12 students to proceed to the International Competition at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. They travel along with the UK students.
Galactic Challenges (GC)are run in conjunction with schools in two levels, years 5-8 and 9-10. Galactic Challenges range in size from 24 to 100 students. They are similar to the regional challenges in that students are organized into student lead companies. They are held on a day selected by schools and the GC representatives. While the SDC’s are completely student lead, the GCs have more interaction with experts and are of a shorter duration. The students nevertheless present to judges in front of all students and differing from the SDC challenges, parents and friends are invited for the presentations and judging.
Other ‘Educational’ competitions are run at schools with the help of the SSEF and UKSDC to help promote science, engineering and space sciences in schools.
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.