• Background Image



SpaceTalks featuring Loretta Whitesides!

spacetalks_lorettaGet your chapters together, it’s time for the latest installment of #SpaceTalks! Join Loretta Whitesides during the live Google+ on air hangout March 15 at 5:30 PT!

About the speaker:

Loretta has over five hours of weightless time in a 727 aircraft as a Flight Director for Zero-G Corporation. She and her husband George T. Whitesides are also Founder Astronauts slated to be among the first to take sub-orbital spaceflights on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. They are also the Co-Creators of Yuri’s Night, The World Space Party and if you haven’t hosted one, you should this April! She has also hosted the L.A. party under the Space Shuttle Endeavour for the past three years.

Trained as an astrobiologist at Stanford and Caltech, Loretta has been to Haughton Crater in the Canadian Arctic to study plant life in extreme environments and to the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean with “Titanic” director James Cameron to film a 3D IMAX documentary, “Aliens of the Deep”.  Loretta is working on her book on the impact of human space exploration on societal evolution and her passion is training the next generation of space leaders to be the change they want to see in the world

#SpaceTalks is a Google Hangout On Air Series that brings you face to face with leaders in space. The first 30 minutes in the hangout are reserved for a presentation from the speaker. The remaining 30 minutes is a Q&A session with the audience. YOU can have your questions answered live from a space industry leader!

Submit your questions before or during the event using #Spacetalks or tagging @SEDSUSA on Twitter!


The Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA)

Founded only five years ago, the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA) has become one of Yale’s largest extracurricular organizations, including 65 dedicated members. YUAA is the only group of its kind here, giving students of any year and any major the opportunity to have a hands-on experience with a yearlong engineering project. In the 2015-2016 year, the organization took on four challenging projects, envisioned and proposed by the members themselves: a rocket carrying our first biological payload, a high-performance UAV, our first CubeSat (a two-year endeavor), and our first optical telescope.

Led by two experienced members, each team works to bring their projects from concept to reality, managing everything from start to finish. By this point, most have completed a prototype, and the second semester will see each kicking it up a notch as they embark on their final designs. With the successful acquisition of funding from corporate and governmental sponsors (including Alcoa, Quanergy, and NASA) and a PR team hard at work planning Aeronautica (our annual project exposition open to the public), YUAA is excited for the semester ahead.

As we grow, we keep two goals in mind: exploring the aerospace community and channeling our efforts into increasingly difficult, but ultimately enriching, projects. The first is why we value the opportunity to work with SEDS and why we want to stay in touch with our alumni and invite professionals to speak with us. Whether we’re connecting with other students or with industry leaders, we believe that reaching out into the field will provide context to our projects and inspire our members. What then naturally follows is the continued improvement in what we do, as we are stimulated by what we see and build upon our experiences. For example, newly added to the leadership team is the Director of Project Management, who will assist us in this effort by documenting and archiving our projects so that we can return to the lessons learned from them in the future, and even the projects themselves, when we choose to rework and improve them.

Today, the group continues to flourish as a community of engineers and a society of friends. Hosting everything from speaker series and technical workshops to family dinners and movie nights, the organization has something for everyone. Work and play, learning and experience – they’re one and the same here, and 2016 is shaping up to be our best year yet. Looking forward, we are eager to deepen our involvement in the SEDS community and excited to continue building relationships with our fellow chapters and engineers.

Ad astra,

Gray Newfield
SEDS Chapter Representative

Devin Cody and Gerardo Carranza

Lucia Korpas
Director of Project Management

Warren Zhang
Director of Development

Jeff Gau, Genevieve Fowler, Bolun Liu
Senior Advisors and Former Presidents

Pratik Gandhi
Director of Public Relations

Isabella Trierweiler
Treasurer and Secretary

Betsy Li, Scott Smith, Brian Beitler, Andrew Arkebauer
Project Leaders


University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) SEDS Chapter Profile

University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) SEDS Chapter Profile



Founded in 1839, Mizzou, short for Missouri and the common appellation for the university, was the first public university west of the Mississippi River and the first state university in Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Territory. As Missouri’s largest public research institution, it is also one of the only five universities nationwide with law, education, medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering and a  nuclear research reactor on one campus.

Mizzou is an educational magnet for innovation and collaboration. The National Science Foundation has recognized Mizzou as one of the top 10 universities in the country for undergraduate research. Located in Columbia, Mizzou draws in sports fans as a member of the Southeastern Conference and boasts a beautiful campus, known for its iconic columns and botanical gardens. Affirming the state motto, Mizzou holds a dear place in the Show-Me state.


Mizzou Engineering: History and Tradition

Mizzou-SEDS is one of over 600 recognized student organizations at our university. Out of 35,000 students enrolled in the university, about 2,900 of them declared an engineering major. Mizzou Engineering has its traditions and rich history stemming from its roots, literally. The University of Missouri-Columbia was established under the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1962, which congress passed to provide land for colleges specializing in engineering and agriculture.

Each year Mizzou Engineering students continue the tradition of celebrating E-Week, the week dedicated to the patron of engineers, St. Patrick. In light of festivities, the tallest building on campus, Jesse Hall, is lit green.


History of MIzzou-SEDS

Mizzou-SEDS was founded in October of 2014 by Jonathan Jennings, the outgoing president   and current University Student Rocketry Challenge (USRC) Project manager. Since its initiation, Mizzou-SEDS has participated in the Global Space Balloon Challenge (GSBC), University Student Rocketry Challenge, and the Satellites Around Mars Design Competition.  We value the space community, at the local and national level.  Our members have participated in STEM outreach with the First Robotics Lego League and March Sky, a three day local rocket camp to teach general rocket knowledge to local K-12 students.  We also help our department recruit prospective engineering students through “Black and Gold” and “Meet Mizzou Days.” To extend our involvement with the national space community, our chapter has sent members to conferences including SEDS SpaceVision 2015, Satellite 2015, Gateway to Space, New Worlds, and participated in “On Capitol Hill” space advocacy groups March Storm, Citizens for Space Exploration, and Students on Capitol Hill.

Our first build team project was flying high altitude balloons for the Global Space Balloon Challenge.  Our GSBC team launched two balloons; one reached 88,000 feet and another, 80,000 feet AGL.  Attached with the first flight was our payload: forests of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The CNTs were grown in one of the research labs in the mechanical engineering department. The goal of this project was to observe changes to the specimens in a high altitude environment, which allowed us to simulate what would occur in a space elevator based on the laws of physics, though at this time this technology is infeasible.

Following nanoindentation of the specimen before and after the flight, we found that there indeed were changes to the samples’ material properties.


To participate in the SEDS USRC, our team built and launched a dual stage rocket. We had a successful launch as the upper stage of the rocket ignited and observed the deployment of the parachute.  Unfortunately, we were unable to recover the upper stage containing the competition payload even after one of our members returned to the area the next day in an experimental aircraft to gain aerial reconnaissance.

Our final project was the Satellites Around Mars Design Competition. One of our graduate student members led this project, and with him, Mizzou-SEDS students completed a paper detailing the communications constellation devised by the design team. Furthermore, the graduate student is now working on this project as part of his graduate research. The conclusive analysis included launch cost, coverage, and bandwidth analysis programs.

Overall, Mizzou-SEDS encountered great success with the help of the space community and devotion members have shown to accomplishing projects. At SpaceVision 2015, Mizzou-SEDS was excited to receive two awards, for Best New Chapter and Best Technical Project.


Mission of Mizzou-SEDS

Our goal is to help Mizzou students to expand their horizons and gain the necessary experience to become a competitive candidate for employment in the space industry.  We also wish to serve as advocates for space policy and a greater partnership between space companies and the Mizzou College of Engineering.


Present and Future Aspirations

Currently, Mizzou-SEDS is working on a recently funded rocket certification project with Tripoli as well as preparing for the USRC, GSBC, SSPI conferences, and Capitol Hill advocacy opportunities. From having no budget last year to being funded over seven and a half times what we spent last year on projects due to funding from the College of Engineering, Organization Resource Group, Student Services Commercial fund, and the Industrial Advisory Council,  we have raised over $9000 with the chance of an additional $8000 during the Spring semester.

Our chapter holds weekly build team meetings as well as monthly general meetings each semester. The officers plan to coordinate guest speakers, socials, and multiple opportunities for outreach in our community. Last semester, Mizzou SEDS went to see The Martian together as one of the socials. This semester, we are planning a spring barbeque and are looking into hosting Yuri’s Night in Central Missouri.


We all are excited to embark on the journey of leading the next class of space enthusiasts, scientists, and engineers at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Ad Astra Per Aspera




Important Members of Note

New officers and faculty adviser for the 2016 spring semester are

Jonathan Jennings – University Student Rocketry Challenge (USRC) Project Manager

Alex Thornton – Chapter President, Mechanical Engineering major

Juhee Hyun – Chapter Vice President and COC representative, Mechanical Engineering major
Angel Matthews – Chapter Secretary and Social Media Coordinator, Pre-engineering

Stuart Belcke – Chapter Treasurer, Mechanical Engineering major

Dr. Craig Kluever – Faculty Adviser, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Mizzou SEDS Links



Mizzou SEDS articles









Becoming a Better Space Family

The topic of this post will be uncomfortable to most, and potentially painful to some. Be warned that I will be discussing workplace harassment, as I and others in my field have observed it come to light over the past several months. I sent a similar memo to my SEDS Board of Directors colleagues a short time ago, though I’ve expanded on some details here. This post is necessarily astronomy-focused, but the principles remain the same whether you draw rockets or build them.

Read More


A little about Virginia Tech SEDS

Surrounding Area

Ut Prosim (That I may serve). It’s a motto and a way of life Virginia Tech students hold dear; a way of life The VT Chapter of SEDS is excitedly fulfilling through our own mission. Nestled in the New River Valley of rural southwest Virginia, Virginia Tech is home to over 31,000 students and, true to our motto, host to some of the biggest service events in the country like the largest collegiate Relay for Life, and the second largest “Big Event”. It’s a place the VT Chapter of SEDS is proud to call home.



Our history actually goes as far back as 2005 where Virginia Tech had a briefly active chapter that left few records before going dormant after that year. The next ‘founding’ of the chapter came in 2010 where alum Brian Keller and member Cameron Crowell restarted the group, enacting foundational goals like officially registering as a student organization, getting a faculty advisor, connecting with SEDS-USA, and shaping the first goals of the chapter. Unfortunately the chapter went dormant again briefly in 2012 before being brought back in its current form in 2013 by alum Aurelien Stamper. The chapter board that year made a conscious effort to stabilize the chapter’s future with a constitution and an unofficial ‘training-up’ of members officers saw as good replacements. From then on, the chapter has continued to develop – getting a new board each year who continues to affiliate with SEDS-USA, a new website and social media presence, and a stable attendance at SpaceVision.



At present, the Chapter is undergoing growth pains, relatively unknown on campus outside of engineering, and trying to find solid footing in consistently providing a great experience to our members and fellow students. At the same time, we’re successfully handling over $3,000 in our operations budget, updating our website and social media regularly, and holding bi-weekly meetings in between successful events like our recent trip to see ‘The Martian’ in theaters.


Main Focus

With our growth and current energy, the officers of the VT Chapter are building on the stability of previous years by putting together a notebook of ‘things that work’ that will include notes like meeting ideas for future officers, procedures for getting SpaceVision funding, and more to be passed down. We’re also in the midst of deciding on a project to get up, running/funded, and associated heavily with our chapter; a tough task among many other hands-on engineering groups at Virginia Tech. Collaboration with other groups aligning with our interests like Students on Capitol Hill, Astrobotics, Atmospheric Teaching Project and more has also been a point of focus current officers are honing in on. One collaboration in particular we’ll be working on this semester is with MusiTech to bring together people who love music and people who love space for Yuri’s Night.


Members of Note

Adam Barnes – Chapter President, Computer science major

Cameron Crowell – Founding member of 2010 VTSEDS, Chapter Vice President, Materials Science Masters student

Sapna Rao – Chapter Publicity Chair, Aerospace Engineering major

Tanner Dykes – Chapter Treasurer, University Studies major

Anselm Wiercioch – Chapter Student Engineer’s Council Representative, Aerospace Engineering major

Andrew Newman – SED-USA chair, former Chapter President, Computer Science major

Paul Hesson – Chapter Project Chair, Aerospace Engineering major

Dr. Kevin Shinpaugh – Faculty Advisor, Director of IT Services for Biocomplexity Institute at VT


Future Aspirations

In the next year or two, the chapter would like to really ‘make good’ on that Ut Prosim motto and expand activities to include outreach to local K-12 students. This effort will likely focus at first on things like the annual Virginia Science Festival in the Fall and Kid’s Tech University in the Spring and expand to sessions at local schools. Additionally, VTSEDS hopes to develop and increase the profile of Yuri’s Night, making it a topic of campus banter every year around April similar to how another club hosts a popular ‘Midwinters Dance’ in February. The chapter board hopes to also see their efforts to develop a hands-on project that can persist and compete with other engineering clubs, as well as efforts to bring in students from more diverse majors, pay off and continue to grow with subsequent boards.


Candidates for SEDS-USA Executive Board 2015-2016

The Council of Chapters will be voting during lunch on Saturday 14 November of SpaceVision 2015 to elect the new Executive Board of SEDS-USA. Open positions include: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Chair of the Council of Chapters, and two At-Large Board Members. Current candidates and their platforms are posted below; clicking a candidate’s name will take you to that candidate’s resume/CV.

Chair of the Board of Directors: A proven leader who has a well rounded idea of not only what it takes to foster and grow an organization but how to balance that with realistic constraints.

  • Andrew Newman (Virginia Tech): “As an At-Large Board Member I helped organize and support some SpaceTalks, SEDS’s involvement with policy matters, international collaborations, and partnerships with other organizations. I am currently supporting the SEDS Business Plan Competition, and building SEDS-Orbit, a peer-mentoring program. As Chair I would enhance the interaction between SEDS USA and SEDS members by strengthening current projects and releasing a bi-monthly newsletter with all upcoming opportunities along with other pertinent information. I also intend to pursue closer relations with space agencies and corporations to offer members more opportunities, and to build the reputation of SEDS within the space industry.”
  • Jonathan Jennings (University of Missouri – Columbia): “I am a creative real world thinker that has demonstrated leadership abilities through multiple student organizations including ASME, AIAA, SEDS, and Mizzou UAV. I feel that my networking and interpersonal skills would greatly aid the future of SEDS on a national level”
  • Nicole Chase: “I have a proven track record when it comes to leadership. I have taken seminars, as part of leadership conferences I’ve attended, on how to be an effective leader, an encouraging leader, and a compassionate leader. I’ve successfully planned, organized, and coordinated a variety of programs that have ranged in size, target audience, and purpose. I’ve successfully lead an organization and have served as part of the Executive Board on a few others. I am also deeply impassioned about space and space exploration. with particular respects to research and exploring Mars, and I hope to be a future leader in space and in space exploration. Because of this combined passion for space and for space exploration, and my proven experience in leadership, I have some great ideas about how SEDS-USA can grow and engage young people to dream big and to expand their horizons. I thank-you for your time and for your consideration.”

Vice-Chair: Vice Chair has great responsibility in eliciting and working with potential funding sources including grants and sponsors and interfacing with the Board of Advisors. This person should also be someone who can take over for the Chair if necessary and be as effective at managing our National team to success.

  • Zach Pace (University of Wisconsin – Madison): “I have been involved with organizing sponsorship for SpaceVision since 2012, and I served this past year as SEDS-USA Vice-Chair. I’d like to continue serving the chapters by pursuing more strategic partnerships with corporations, professional societies, and government offices. My plan for the coming year is to focus on SEDS’s relationship with NASA, both AASs, and WIA, in order to solidify the SEDS position as an important organization for students and young professionals. A large part of this will be involving those organizations at the ground level of SpaceVision and other national projects. Lastly, my formal education in physics and astronomy gives me a different perspective on job training & career readiness, as well as a relatively unique set of connections, which I have brought to bear repeatedly to further SEDS national projects.”
  • Tayler Fulton (Arizona State University): “I have been the Council of Chapters at SEDS-ASU for the past 2 years and really enjoy it, but now I want to do more. I would really enjoy being apart of the SEDS-USA family and want to expand my horizons when it comes to what I can do. I would be honored to have the opportunity at this position.”
  • Leodalin Cotto (Texas A&M University): “I participated in NASA Aerospace Scholars and was the president of the group. At the competition we won first place which was presented with a medal made out of the last space shuttle that went to the moon. I speak two languages so through this position I would want to connect with more people and expand the SEDS community.”

Secretary: Someone with a keen attention to the details of running an organization who is prepared to update the blog as well as take meeting minutes.

  • Miekkal Clarkson (Arizona State University): “I have been on the Board for the past year, and I have seen some amazing projects come from the other members. But I know that with changing leadership, many of those projects may fall by the wayside. I believe my experience as Secretary already, as well as my attention to detail and flexibility to work on a multitude of tasks, will help maintain these initiatives between the old and the new Board as well as bringing forth new projects in the future. My strongest trait is my ability to make other people excel, helping from behind the scenes, and I believe I can really utilize it to the benefit of all of SEDS. I’ve enjoyed my time as Secretary for SEDS-USA, and I’d love a repeat of the amazing success we’ve experienced over this past year.”

Treasurer: Someone who really wants to learn about handling the accounting for a National 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This is an incredible opportunity for those business/finance/accounting students that are having a hard time finding where their skills fit into the space industry, or for anyone who is organized and enjoys working the numbers.

  • Ben Stenson (University of California – San Diego): “I am the treasurer for SEDS UCSD, and managing all the accounts we have has given me a ton of experience keeping finances under control. I am a finance major, and having that background allows me to bring a specialized monetary viewpoint to organization decisions typically dominated by engineers.”

Chair of the Council of Chapters: This person is responsible for interacting with and assisting chapter representatives, disseminating announcements and information from National, and planning and running monthly CoC meetings.

  • Emily Judd (University of Central Florida): “SEDS has been one of the most influential parts of my undergraduate career. I joined SEDS-UCF as a freshman and have been a part of the organization ever since. SEDS-UCF has given me the opportunity to grow as a leader, trusting me as Treasurer for two years, and now I am expanding in a new role as the Director of External Affairs. I would be a good Chair of the Council of Chapters for SEDS-USA due to my experience as the UCF representative for CoC meetings. Being a member and attending SpaceVision for several years has given me the knowledge of how the organization is run as well as the connections with other chapters and leaders to effectively help lead SEDS-USA and coordinate efforts between chapters across the country. I would be honored to serve as next year’s Chair of the Council of Chapters, and I thank you for your consideration.”

At-Large Board Member: These are the people with ideas that have a passion for implementing them at the National level. It is especially important that candidates come up with creative solutions to the challenges faced by our organization and are excellent at following through on these ideas and finding ways to implement them.

  • Jeremy Jakubowski (Arizona State University): “I am great at seeing the overall big picture in projects. One of my ideas that I feel would be a great benefit to the space community is to create a network of ground stations for universities.”
  • Ethan Kayser (Purdue University): “I have been an integral part of the thriving Purdue SEDS chapter throughout my undergraduate career, serving as Secretary, Vice President, and finally President this past year. SEDS has given me so much, and I hope to give back by serving on the national board. As an At-Large Board Member, I hope to provide a library of resources that are easily accessible to chapter leadership for chapters to be as successful as possible. I also hope to improve on the value of the SEDS membership to the general member and get SEDS USA involved with supporting ambitious and innovative chapter projects.”
  • Brandon Medina (Virginia Tech): “As a mechanical engineer, I love to build things. This is not limited to robots and spacecraft, but also teams and organizations. If elected as a Member at Large, I want to work on improving the communications that students, chapters, and companies have with each other. Being an active member of my SEDS chapter and being the leader of VT’s NASA Robotic Mining Competition team, I have found that many students are unaware of the size and scope of the NewSpace movement. So many students want to be more involved, but are unaware of how to do go about this. I believe that a digital platform featuring a variety of interesting topics including job listings, student research and design projects, events/activities organized by other chapters, and more would be an amazing resource for students. I began working on this project as a member of the Space Frontier Foundation, but it was ultimately tabled. I know this idea can flourish under SEDS, and I possess the work ethic and creativity to accomplish this.”
  • Mehmet Akbulut (Boston University): “I was the Chair for SpaceVision 2015. I managed to bring in a lot of revenue from our university and negotiate down costs with several entities for the conference. Locally I have also organized and executed various networking events for BU-SEDS and other organizations. I beleive SEDS-USA can benefit from my experience and knowledge with organization and management.”

Please review candidate platforms and resumes before elections at lunch today.


Help SEDS Send Ahmed to SpaceVision 2015

Two days ago, a ninth grade student was arrested at a high school in Texas for bringing in a clock he had made himself to proudly show his teacher, who thought 14-year-old Ahmed had brought her a bomb. After questioning and analysis, once he was released, the police informed Ahmed that he had committed the crime of a “hoax bomb”, having built something that looked like a bomb. What a bum rap!

Hearing this story, SEDS students around the world can think back to their days in high school physics class where everything you made was SO cool and you loved showing it off to your teacher. Still thinking back to ourselves in high school, we are so impressed by Ahmed’s motivation and curiosity for participating in engineering.

SEDS is all about students helping students, and to show our support for Ahmed and for the betterment of primary STEM education, we have started a GoFundMe to send Ahmed to SpaceVision 2015, where he’ll have the opportunity to interact with hundreds of similarly motivated and curious young people and learn about space science and engineering. To balance this traumatic experience with a positive one, we’d like to give Ahmed (and one parent) the gift of travel and lodging to the largest student-run space conference in the world. Please consider contributing to help us make this possible!


What’s The Point? The Real Reason Scientists Study Space

Check out this excerpt from SEDS-USA Chair Hannah Kerner’s latest op ed — read the full article on Space.com!

As space scientists, we’re forced to explain how our work translates to people’s daily lives, how we’re helping them directly. In answering the question, “What’s the point?”, in converting the meaning of our work to units of impact on the average citizen, we are forced to dilute that meaning. In answering this question, we claim to be trying to put it “in layman’s terms,” but rather than teaching and fostering understanding, we are mutilating our work into some sort of “spin-off” explanation that feels like a lie. 

The right answer is that thinking about problems on scales like the astronomical is good. It is fundamentally worthwhile for humans to push the boundaries of their understanding, to convert the unknown into the known through the power of scientific inquiry. 

Rather than “What’s the point?” the question should be, “What does thinking about and understanding these problems mean for humans and for the evolution of humanity as a part of the universe?”


Students, are you interested in writing for Space.com or other top news sources? Contact us! No prior publishing experience is necessary… seriously!



Next SpaceTalks: Sept 10 with Charles Miller

SEDS-USA is kicking off the first SpaceTalks of the semester with Charles Miller. In his speech, he will address the idea of identifying profit opportunities and what that means in the space industry. Miller will talk to us from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. EST on Thursday Sept. 10 and use the remaining half hour to answer questions from chapter members. SpaceTalks puts you face-to-face with leaders in space, so we encourage chapters to use this opportunity to have Miller answer their questions.

About the speaker:
Charles Miller is the president of space and public policy consultancy NexGen Space LLC – a company that provides client services at the juncture between civil, commercial and national security. As former NASA Senior Advisor for Commercial Space, Miller has led a half dozen NASA commercial space teams responsible for assessing barriers to commercial space projects and satellite servicing, as well as funded space act agreements, commercial reusable launch vehicles and solutions for space debris removal. Miller made a major push to make space exploration more accessible to the masses when he cofounded NanoRacks and founded ProSpace.

SpaceTalks is a Google+ on air Hangout that allows students to speak one-on-one with professional in their fields. While it is ok to watch the SpaceTalk online, we invite chapters to actually be a part of the Hangout. In order to reserve your spot, email andrew.newman@seds.org.

To learn more about SpaceTalks and watch previous installments, visit http://seds.org/spacetalks/.


Making Magma, Finding Exoplanets

The latest blog post in the SEDS Student Space column on space news channel Sen is now live! Read this very informative and well-written piece by Arizona State University SEDS member and graduate student, Kara Brugman: http://sen.com/blogs/seds-community/the-next-steps-in-our-search-for-life