The Texas A&M Chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (TAMU-SEDS) was founded with the interest of uniting and inspiring like-minded students to pursue education and involvement in space-related fields. We have about 20 regular members from a broad variety of STEM majors. Our chapter encourages fraternity through events and projects, hosts exciting guest lecturers, and contributes to the wellbeing of the local community. Opportunities abound for our members thanks to the tremendous engineering and aerospace facilities at Texas A&M University. We are also proud to have strong ties with the NASA Johnson Space Center, especially through the continuous support and mentorship of professors and former astronauts Dr. Gregory Chamitoff and Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar.
TAMU-SEDS has a strong focus on inspiring and involving more people in discussions and innovations in the future of space exploration. One of the major ways that our chapter inspires youth is to visit middle schools and high schools to give demonstrations, as well as inviting the students to our campus-operated observatory. Many members also volunteer in other STEM programs, such as the SpaceX Hyperloop competition that was hosted by Texas A&M during this previous academic year. The event consisted of over 100 national and international universities. TAMU-SEDS helped in the organization of the event and even had a participating team move forward in the competition. Several of our members are actively involved in the Zero Robotics Challenge, serving as mentors for a group of local Texas teams competing in the international SPHERES robot programming challenge. In addition, the chapter helped to coordinate an ‘Aggies Invent’ design competition in conjunction with our university’s Engineering Innovation Center, during which participant teams were tasked with rapidly developing additively manufactured systems that could be printed in space to fulfill a variety of needs onboard the International Space Station.
The TAMU chapter holds regular social events for members and newcomers to enjoy and grow in our mutual passion for all things space. Common events that SEDS members participate in are star-gazing parties, camping trips, and meeting with Texas A&M faculty and industry leaders with tremendous experience in both the engineering and scientific aspects of space exploration. In the last year, a large group of members visited locations such as the Johnson Space Center and the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, Texas, and held an inter-organization social of attending the opening night of the film “The Martian” with the Texas A&M Chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Many of our members attend, and even volunteer at, industry related conferences like SpaceVision, the SpaceCom Expo, and NewWorlds. Further, we partake a massive annual community service project called the ‘Big Event,’ during which over 20,000 Texas A&M students helping residents and small businesses around the Bryan-College Station area during the Spring semester.
Graced by their abundance at Texas A&M, our chapter also frequently tours local world-renowned research facilities, such as the Cyclotron Institute, the Klebanoff-Seric Wind Tunnel, and the Land Air & Space Robotics Laboratory.
During the past year, members expressed interest in developing an internal sub-group for learning about, and experimenting with, small rocketry technology. To this end, members met with the Tripoli Rocketry Club in Hearne, TX on multiple occasions and received training in 3D printing technology as it relates to rocketry endeavors. This project will continue into the coming academic year and will include monthly meetings with the Tripoli Rocketry Club, and additional focus on rocket-related innovation.
Many of our members also take part in external space-related projects. A few examples include AggieSat Lab, which designs, builds, and flies satellites; the High Altitude Balloon Club, which performs atmospheric research; and the Sounding Rocketry Team, a team who sends rockets from sketchpad to skyward.
Goals for the Coming Year
In addition to continued membership growth, guest lectures, and industry tours, TAMU-SEDS anticipates several exciting upcoming projects, including assisting with the establishment of a new high school SEDS group. In an alliance with the university’s nationally ranked observatory, members will also have an opportunity for hands-on training in optical telescope systems and astronomical research. Further, the organization looks forward to contributing to virtual reality simulation systems in coordination with Mars City Design and many others. This summer and throughout the year, TAMU-SEDS is collaborating with the Texas A&M ASTRO Center to develop a powerful virtual reality platform using the HTC VIVE head-mounted display. The chapter also plans to participate in the upcoming Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) design challenge and forming an interdisciplinary team to work with NASA mentors and develop concepts for the future of human space exploration.