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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


The SEDS Talent Portal is Open!

Screenshot 2015-08-29 at 2.01.18 PM

The SEDS network is made up of thousands of extremely talented students and alumni, and the SEDS mission is to cultivate this young talent and and provide a supportive and inspiring community throughout their careers. Towards this mission we have created the SEDS Talent Portal, which allows SEDS members and alumni to post their resumes and browse jobs, posted by space industry employers who can browse resumes in a searchable format.

If you’re a member of SEDS, whether a current student or alumna/alumnus, go ahead and add your resume using this quick, simple form and get started browsing jobs!

If you’re an employer looking to share opportunities with the SEDS membership, contact SEDS Chair Hannah Kerner (hannah.kerner@seds.org) for the password to upload a job listing.

Posted by:
Hannah Kerner
Arizona State University


Registration is Open for SpaceVision 2015!

spacevision_annafisher-02Everyone get excited, because registration has now officially opened for SpaceVision 2015! This year’s conference will be hosted by BU SEDS in Boston, MA November 12-15. Visit our website for updates on the latest speaker confirmations and activities planned for the conference, as well as to book a spot in our discounted room block at the beautiful Hilton Boston Back Bay hotel. While you wait impatiently for November, take some time to check out all the fun things there are to do in Boston!

Prices increase on October 12th, so register now (and invite the rest of your space family) for what promises to be the most fun, educational, and innovative event you attend this year!


I Was Supposed to Pursue an Aerospace Engineering Degree… Woops

I was supposed to pursue an aerospace engineering degree. Woops.

I was supposed to get Helio Space off the ground this summer. Woops.

Major Changes

I changed my major to computer science. I’m rather surprised myself by this decision, but looking back, it’s actually been months in the making. Last semester I was constantly lamenting the lack of space-oriented classes in the aerospace space track curriculum (there are three I would take, consisting of ~6% of all my classes). I spoke with a friend and mentor about pursuing computer science, and he encouraged me to do it. So I added it as a second major.

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The B-Word

Beware of the B-word—are you as busy as you think you are?

Original post: https://www.planet.com/pulse/the-b-word/

Having been the Chair of SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space)—a national nonprofit providing leadership and technical experience for young people passionate about space—for two years, I have met hundreds of very smart young people overflowing with potential. Yet I have been frustrated by almost as many of them for not utilizing that potential—not seizing opportunities sitting right in front of them. Time and time again I see students pass up opportunities, or not even recognize the opportunities they have, because they are “too busy.” They’re too busy with homework. They’re too busy studying for a test on Thursday. They’re too busy to do anything on top of work and school. They just don’t have time on top of it all.

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New Partnership Between SEDS-USA and Space Generation Advisory Council

SGAC Fusion Forum Group PhotoI am ecstatic to announce that SEDS-USA and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) have agreed to support each other’s efforts officially through a Memorandum of Understanding signed this Summer. The Space Generation Advisory Council is a perfect “next step” for SEDS members looking to expand and continue their space network. SGAC is for young professionals from 18-35 involved in the space industry. Through their phenomenal networking and professional development events, such as Fusion Forum and the Space Generation Congress, the SGAC is a place for SEDS members to get involved with space policy and other self-starters in the industry.

We’re happy to see where this partnership takes us and look forward to seeing the change we can make together!

Posted by:
John Conafay
SEDS-USA Executive Director
Arizona State University