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Running for the Board of Directors Election

Being a team player and reliable communication are vital to the success of every member of the SEDS-USA staff and board. However, there are specific tasks each board member will work on, and certain attributes that naturally go along with these tasks. Aligning your skills and experience with a specific board position can help ensure the right fit when applying, and enable you to better represent yourself when running for election.

What follows are my thoughts as Chair of the Board of Directors on each position and what it takes to be successful.

At-Large Board Member

In the past, the big idea has always been we want YOU to have big ideas. At this point, however, we have a backlog of amazing projects that we don’t have the manpower to get to, so it’s important that you can start and complete projects without heavy oversight. Some of these projects include new competitions, the creation of an industry jobs board, and an annual SEDS hackathon. We are open to new projects, but will prioritize projects with the highest impact.

CoC Chair

The Council of Chapters (CoC) Chair runs and manages the CoC, and stays in contact with chapters to ensure SEDS-USA properly supports them. The CoC also acts as the “voice of the chapters” in Board of Directors (BoD) meetings. All BoD members think in terms of what’s best for chapters, but the CoC Chair’s position allows her unique insight. It’s important the CoC Chair is happy to help chapters and engages with them on a consistent basis. SEDS has grown by 50% in the past year, and we are on track to add at least another 20 chapters this coming year. The CoC Chair needs to be ready to handle a growing chapter base.


As Secretary, you must be reliable and organized. You are required to take notes at board meetings, and this currently amounts to once a week. Google Drive is likely the most important tool SEDS-USA uses, and while simple, it is of utmost importance that it is well maintained and organized. Over the past few months, we’ve given the Secretary responsibility akin to a project manager. The secretary manages the Kanban Board (an online board that separates tasks by current, soon, and future) and ensures it stays up-to-date with tasks. The Secretary doesn’t prioritize or order tasks, but does ensure board members always have a current task.


We use the accounting software Xero and handle more than $100,000 in revenue annually. For Treasurer, you should really be studying accounting, or have a strong desire to learn accounting. We also plan to apply for grants this coming year, so previous grant writing experience is a bonus, though by no means required.


The Vice-Chair maintains our relationships with sponsoring companies, other organizations, and the Board of Advisors. A large part of this is to “sell SEDS” to companies to sponsor us, and build up our current relationships with other organizations. You will create the sponsorship prospectus and engage with our company contacts to ensure SpaceVision is funded along with our other projects and competitions.


So you want my position? Good luck 😉 . At any one time, there will be ten different things you and the board could be doing; you need to know how to prioritize and complete tasks. A large part of the position is a mix between At-Large and Vice-Chair, where you’re working on new projects for SEDS and helping with sponsorship. You’ll also handle personnel and other issues that affect SEDS-USA. You must have a strong vision for how you want SEDS to evolve over the next couple of years, and know how to accomplish that vision. Basically, you need to be a well-rounded leader to excel as Chair.

Final thoughts

Some of the tasks listed are likely things you’ve never done. We have documentation and are happy to support you along the way. Very few people come into SEDS leadership knowing exactly how to do their job, it’s through willingness to learn and the support of others that we are all successful. Best of luck running for the Board of Directors!


Jeff Bezos to donate $250K Heinlein Prize to SEDS student space leaders organization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced yesterday that he would donate his $250,000 prize to Students for Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS-USA).

In recognition of his recent accomplishments in commercial space activities, Bezos won the Heinlein Prize and a quarter of a million dollars in winnings. He was president of his SEDS chapter during his time at Princeton University.

While offered annually, the Heinlein Prize has only been awarded three times in its history. PayPal and SpaceX founder Elon Musk won the Heinlein Prize in 2011, and Dr. Peter Diamandis, founder of X-PRIZE Foundation and SEDS-USA, won the inaugural Heinlein Prize in 2006.

Current plans would allocate most of the donation to the SEDS-USA endowment fund – a memorial fund dedicated to Darrell D. Cain – so that the money can impact generations of students to come. This plan is pending approval from Jeff Bezos, the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Directors.

“Everyone at SEDS is really excited about the news,” SEDS-USA Chair Andrew Newman said. “Jeff Bezos’ generous gift is going to make an immediate impact as we gear up for our 2016 SpaceVision conference, as well as a lasting impact for our 60 chapters and 2,000 student members nationwide. We thank Jeff Bezos for this gift and we pledge to make the 2016 SpaceVision conference the best yet.”

SEDS-USA, whose purpose is to promote space exploration and development through educational and technical projects, is the largest student organization of future space leaders. SEDS-USA is a national 501(c)3 non-profit with the goal of empowering students to participate and make an impact in space exploration.

For all press inquiries, interview requests, and more information, contact Chelsey Ballarte at Press@seds.org.



Andrew Newman
(703) 774-5047


John Conafay
Executive Director, SEDS-USA
(240) 486-0803


Texas A&M University SEDS Chapter Profile


Chapter Overview

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.


Outreach Events

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.


Social Events

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.


Technical Projects

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.



SEDS Job Opportunities!

We understand your drive and excitement to be a part of the space industry. We have it too. With that in mind we’d love to help you find a way to plug into the community and utilize that motivation. So we reached out to a few of our industry friends and partners to identify some options. Here is the result: a list of current opportunities, from industry, government, and the nonprofit world that are relevant to current SEDS members and recent alumni. If you have something you’d like to add please reach out to patrick.gray@seds.org and I’ll put it on the list. Happy hunting and let us know how we can help!

Virgin Galactic
  • Integration Engineer, LauncherOne
    • Description: Virgin Galactic (VG) is seeking an engineer with experience integrating liquid fueled rockets. This role is for a self-starting, hands-on person with great attention to detail and excellent people skills. This is a full-time position at Virgin Galactic’s aerospace facility in Long Beach, California. In this role you will be working with teams from Structures, Avionics, and Propulsion to define the hardware being handed off from the manufacturing teams to integration. You will be part of a deeply cross functional team. You will be getting parts, data, and support from across the company. Your desk is likely to be a workbench next to the rocket you are building.
    • Location: Long Beach, CA
    • Linkhttp://tinyurl.com/virgin-integration-eng
House of Representatives
  • Internship with The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
    • Description: The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology typically hires interns for four month periods each fall, spring, and summer. The internship provides a unique opportunity to observe the legislative process first hand. Interns are asked to work with staff to help prepare for committee hearings and markups. Additionally, interns are critical to the daily operation of the office including tasks such as answering phones, greeting visitors, and filing official documents. Interns also work directly with staff on substantive research projects and press matters. In order to enhance the learning experience, interns are encouraged to attend lectures, briefings, and other events on Capitol Hill that suit their interests.
    • Location: Washington, DC
    • Link: http://democrats.science.house.gov/internships
Descartes Labs
  • Software Engineer
    • Description: Redefine the limits of “Big Data.” Our peta-scale, cloud-based processing architecture provides daily challenges and opportunities for innovation. Your C/C++ must be very strong, along with excellent debugging and optimization skills. Pluses: parallel computing, machine learning, Google Cloud/AWS, Geographic Information Systems and GDAL.
    • Location: Los Alamos, NM
    • Link: https://jobs.lever.co/descarteslabs.com/55bcc68b-f7ba-448f-bb02-033537547b33
Deep Space Industries
  • Propulsion Engineer
    • Description: DSI is seeking a propulsion engineer to assist with the fabrication and testing of its Comet line of water electrothermal thrusters. Duties will include adapting mechanical and/or electrical interfaces of thruster to suit specific customer requirements, as well as performance and environmental acceptance testing of all flight models (FMs) and design upgrades as deemed necessary or desirable. Job will also include assisting in the design of advanced propulsion concepts. Successful candidates will have 5+ years experience with spacecraft propulsion systems (or small spacecraft in general with strong fundamentals in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics).
    • Location: Mountain View, CA
    • Link: https://deepspaceindustries.com/careers/
  • Embedded Systems Engineer
    • Description: DSI is seeking an embedded systems engineer to assist with the design and testing of avionics for its first asteroid prospecting spacecraft. Duties will include embedded software development (assembly and C), schematic and PCB design, functional and environmental testing, and ground support equipment design. Experience soldering electronic assemblies (particularly J-STD certification) a plus. Successful candidates will have 5+ years designing and testing embedded systems, for satellites or other applications.
    • Location: Mountain View, CA
    • Link: https://deepspaceindustries.com/careers/
  • EdTech Business Development Manager
    • Description: DreamUp is seeking a self-motivated and talented full-time EdTech Business Development Manager to grow our customer base and develop unique and impactful programs to bring the magic of space-based research opportunities to a growing number of students around the globe.
    • Location: Washington, DC
    • Link: http://www.dreamup.org/dreamup-blog//edtech-business-development-manager
  • Business Intern
    • Description: This position is for about 20 hours per week with a flexible schedule. The position pays $18 per hour to start and has the potential to become a full-time position. Recent graduates or graduate students in business, aerospace engineering, biology, medical sciences or related fields are preferred. This intern will: track a target list of potential customers in biomedical or materials science field, prepare and manage revisions to documents including reports, presentations and proposals, evaluate potential strategic partnerships with suppliers to biomedical and material sciences, and research public filings
    • Location: Washington, DC
    • Link: http://nanoracks.com/business-intern/
  • Lunar Lander Lead Engineer
    • Description: iSpace is looking for an engineer to help lead their lunar lander development efforts. This person will perform trade studies, technology audits and create technology roadmaps for lander development. They will be involved in systems engineering for landing spacecraft in all phases of design including specification, requirement, manufacturing and testing phases. They will coordinate multiple teams and external contractors for lander development. They will oversee component and integrated environmental testing of a lander. And they will be responsible for communicating with launch service providers to develop ICDs for a lander.
    • Location: Tokyo, Japan
    • Link: http://tinyurl.com/iSpace-lander-lead
  • Conference Intern
    • Description:  the inaugural SpaceCom in Houston last November was a huge success. Due to this success the conference is looking to bring on a number of interns to support the coming year. This will be a paid internship for SpaceCom 2016. The 10-20 hours/week job would involve a lot of marketing research, and an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding and contacts throughout the space industry.
    • Location: Remote Work Accepted
    • Contact: swolfe@spacecomexpo.com
Lockheed Martin
    • Systems Engineer Associate
      • Description: This is a two year program designed to assign entry level employees a variety of tasks associated with the design, development, production and operational support of Military Space spacecraft and ground mission control segments. Working with different mentors in each assignment the employee will gain experience across multiple engineering disciplines and program life cycle elements within the Military Space line of business. After successful completion of the rotation program, the employee will be well qualified to take on a longer term challenging assignment supporting one of the Military Space programs. Ability to network, strong interpersonal relationship and communication skills will be enhanced by exposure to multiple teammates and mentors throughout the rotation program.
      • Location: Sunnyvale, CA and Littleton, CO
      • Link for CA: https://search.lockheedmartinjobs.com/ShowJob/Id/51003/Systems-Engineer-Associate/
      • Link for CO: https://search.lockheedmartinjobs.com/ShowJob/Id/52793/Systems-Engineer-Associate/
Tauri Group
    • Aerospace Analyst
    • Description: The Tauri Group is currently building a pipeline of Aerospace Analysts at all levels of experience to provide upcoming, analytical support for multiple government agencies including NASA, DARPA, and a variety of commercial clients. Duties will be performed on-site at Government facilities in the Washington DC Metro area and/or our Old Town Alexandria facility.
    • Location: Washington, DC
    • Link: http://tinyurl.com/tauri-aero-analyst
Made in Space
    • Robotics Engineer
      • Description: With a goal to radically change the way we do space missions today by building everything you need for space, in space. Made in Space is looking for driven engineers to perform research and development functions on the robotic systems that will be incorporated into developed hardware. Engineers in this position will work on problems with moderate to large scopes that have challenges unlike any use case addressed in traditional robotics.
      • Location: Mountain View, CA
      • Link: http://www.madeinspace.us/robotics-engineer/
    • Electrical Engineer
    • Description: Made in Space is looking for an entry level electrical engineer with expertise in grounding, impedance, and low EMI design. Other pluses are: experience with 3D printers, experience working with NASA and/or Space Station hardware, and knowledge of ISS Requirements a huge plus.
    • Location: Mountain View, CA
    • Link: http://www.madeinspace.us/electrical-engineer/
Planetary Resources
  • Business Operations Assistant
    • Description: Planetary Resources is in search of a business operations assistant to support the operations staff and CEO by performing a wide range of administrative and office support activities. The ideal candidate will possess the ability to prioritize a wide variety of demands and respond to requests with appropriate urgency, impeccable organizational abilities, and strong time management skills. An individual who is even-keeled, energetic, and enjoys learning new skills can excel in this role. The position will report to the Business Operations Manager and significant responsibilities will include directly supporting the administrative needs of the CEO.
    • Location: Redmond, WA
    • Link: http://webconnect3.atango.com/CN_Frame.aspx?ID=planetaryresources&SiteID=WebConnect&Group=planetaryresources&Key=CN&PostId=&CnId=&startpage=2
  • Business Development Summer Associate
    • Description: Joining the Planetary Resources team means you will be an active part of a pioneering vision to expand humanity into the Solar System – one spacecraft at a time. We are looking for MBA candidates that are as passionate as us about developing space and the impact we can have on global industries such as agriculture, oil & gas, mining and financial intelligence. Candidates should expect a hands-on, intense and dynamic work environment.  Work alongside our experienced staff and make an immediate impact on current product development and business strategy. Join us and bring your skills to the next frontier.
    • Location: Redmond, WA
    • Link: http://webconnect3.atango.com/CN_Frame.aspx?ID=planetaryresources&SiteID=WebConnect&Group=planetaryresources&Key=CN&PostId=&CnId=&startpage=2

Ad astra,

Patrick Gray

Alumni Association Coordinator


University of Buffalo SEDS Chapter Profile

ub_seds_logo copy

Chapter History

UB-SEDS was founded in 2007 and currently boasts about 30 to 40 regular members. Most members are Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering majors, but some members are majoring in other STEM subjects, such as Physics or Math. Within the UB Student Association, UB-SEDS is a Permanent member of the UB Engineering Council. The missions of this chapter as outlined in the club Constitution are as follows:

  1. To educate the UB student body and the general public about the benefits of space exploration and development,
  2. To provide members with relevant internship, research, and publication opportunities,
  3. To encourage area youth to get involved with space development and exploration,
  4. To foster international discussion and the exchange of ideas related to the exploration and development of space, and
  5. To encourage collaboration of many fields of study in order to integrate a wider group of people bound for space exploration.

UB-SEDS has a history of strong involvement with SEDS USA, with 10 members serving on the SEDS national board since the chapter’s formation. Additionally, SpaceVision 2012 was hosted at UB.

Community Involvement

Over the past year, UB-SEDS has participated in the following Community Outreach events in order to pursue the first and third goals of our mission statement: educating the general public about space development and fostering interest in space (and STEM in general) among area youth.

Educational Outreach

UB-SEDS has held many educational outreach events on Saturday mornings at the Buffalo Museum of Science to do space-related activities with local elementary-age children visiting the museum. This year, members have run activities such as paper-airplane contests, building Lego spaceships, and shooting pump rockets.


Department Tours

Additionally, UB-SEDS members recently volunteered to give tours of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department on Accepted Students Day. This was a great opportunity, not only to give back to the university, but also a chance to reach out to prospective future members and raise awareness of the opportunities available through SEDS.

UB SWE Shadow Day

UB-SEDS members also assisted UB SWE (the Society of Women Engineers) in hosting their recent Shadow Day event, which brought middle-school-age girls on campus for a day to encourage their developing interest in engineering and STEM fields. The SEDS members showed the visiting students around the SEDS Workshop.

Technical Projects

Individual High-Power Rocketry

A strong interest in High-Power Rocketry is one of UB-SEDS’s greatest assets and a favorite tradition. Recently, seven of the US-SEDS Rocketry participants travelled to Torrey Farms in Potter, NY to launch their individual rockets and earn National Association of Rocketry certifications. In April, five participants earned their Level 1 Certifications and another earned his Level 2 Certification. UB-SEDS members generally attend these launches once or twice a year.

University Student Rocketry Competition

UB-SEDS began competing in SEDS USA’s University Student Rocketry Competition in 2012 and took first place in the competition in 2014. This year, the USRC team meets once a week to work on developing and building this year’s submission. The group is currently finishing up building the fin cans for both the upper stage and booster. Additionally, the electronics bay is almost complete and members have begun hooking up the electronics.

Engineering Week BattleBot Competition

This year at UB’s Engineering Week BattleBot competition, SEDS made its first showing in three years. Unfortunately, technical issues in the early rounds of the competition led to a stunning loss, but the club was proud to have re-started the BattleBot project and created an intimidating chainsaw-equipped bot.

Social Events

UB-SEDS prides itself in hosting a number of various social events throughout the academic year to bring our members together. This year, US-SEDS hosted a handful of movie nights on-campus, featuring space films such as Apollo 10 and Interstellar. A majority of the club also visited a local theatre in October to view “The Martian.” In January, members celebrated the start of the spring semester by gathering to view Andy Weir’s SpaceTalks event.


During E-Week, UB-SEDS hosted a new “Build Your Own Heat Shield” event for members of other clubs to create a pseudo-heat shield using cardboard, glue, nails, ceramic dust, gravel and sand. Once the shields were complete, they were tested to see how long they could hold up a portion of burning thermite without breaking. This was the first year that this event was held and it was a huge success.

One of the greatest achievements of this year was the re-booting of the UB-SEDS Astronomy Project group after a period of inactivity. During celestial events such as a lunar eclipse, members meet on campus to observe the night sky through an H-alpha solar telescope. Educational events are held indoors when the weather does not cooperate. There are also plans-in-the-making for a trip to the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium at Buffalo State University.

Goals for Next Year

For the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year, the new E-board hopes to start a weather balloon project, enter the national-level IREC rocketry competition, and develop an internal mentoring program to train the future leadership of the club.

Through outreach events, technical projects, and social gatherings, UB-SEDS prides itself in creating a close-knit community where the students of UB come together to gain relevant technical experience, give back to the community, and enjoy sharing their passion for space exploration.

Ad Astra,

The University at Buffalo SEDS Executive Board of 2015-2016

Daniel Miller, President

Tristan Stoner, Vice President

Eric Borchert, Treasurer and Director of Educational Outreach

Alex Paluch, Secretary

Ben Cammett, Director of Public Relations

Maggie Petrella, Council of Chapters Representative




The SEDS Alumni Association Meet Up After the Space Symposium


Left to right: Matt Canella, Chris Nie, Lauren Smith, Will Pomerantz, John Conafay, Ruben Nunez. Photo courtesy of John Conafay.


The SEDS Alumni Association, a group known for providing networking opportunities to graduated SEDS members, hosted a successful meet up after the 32nd Space Symposium on April 12.


Current and past SEDS members had a great time at Play at the Broadmoor where they got to play foosball, pool, and even a few bowling matches while having an amazing post-conference meal. SEDS’ newest advisor Kris Lehnhardt even made an appearance at the event.


“[It was] an intimate gathering that was like catching up with old friends. We discussed the incredible history of SEDS and everyone’s part, what we can do to grow even more and laughed the entire night,” SEDS Executive Director John Conafay said.


The SEDS Alumni Association hosts events like this all throughout the year. They are always communicating with members about future networking opportunities and connecting them to resources like the resume directory.


If you are a recent graduate or plan on graduating this upcoming semester, join the SEDS Alumni Association today. All you have to do is fill out this quick form and you’ll be connected to like-minded individuals in the SEDS community.


Purdue University SEDS Chapter Profile


Chapter Intro

The Purdue chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) was founded on December 7, 1994 (exactly 1 year before Galileo was scheduled to arrive at Jupiter.) and has since grown to its current size of 40 active members. Through biweekly meetings as well as various events, Purdue SEDS is an active and well-recognized organization in the larger Aerospace community at Purdue. As a chapter, Purdue SEDS focuses on three primary missions:

  1. Conduct outreach events that raise awareness of the importance and value of space in our everyday lives and promote students of all ages to pursue careers in the space industry
  1. Develop members’ technical experience through work on hands-on projects such as the High Altitude Balloon, High-Powered Model Rockets, and Satellite Competition
  1. Host social events such as movie nights and rocket launch BBQs throughout the year to promote interaction between members and to foster a community of space-enthusiasts

While Purdue SEDS typically consists mostly of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering students, the chapter works to encourage students from other majors, including from colleges other than Engineering, to get involved in SEDS and the various events hosted by the chapter.

Outreach Events

In the past academic year, Purdue SEDS has participated in several community outreach events in an effort to share its passion for space with young people. Whether hosting an event on-campus or partnering with our local elementary school, Purdue SEDS has sought to teach and inspire its community’s youth through lessons in rocketry, astronomy, and the importance of space.

College Mentors for Kids

At this on-campus event, ours SEDS chapter worked alongside several other Purdue organizations to host local middle school students, showing them the many different fields they can study in the future. Each 5th to 6th grade student was paired with a college mentor, who led them through activities related to Purdue’s offered fields of study. Our SEDS chapter represented the field of Aerospace Engineering on two separate occasions, teaching students more about both conventional and contemporary space travel with a paper rocket building activity. We also taught students more about the planets of our own solar system.

Purdue IDEAS Day

IDEAS is a day for elementary students to participate in several activities around campus, where they can learn about the challenges and the joys of engineering. SEDS represented Aerospace Engineering once again, this time with a balloon rocket activity that taught students about Newton’s laws of motion, the forces of flight, and the purpose/importance of a rocket’s payload. Our SEDS chapter helped students to build rockets made of blown-up balloons, Popsicle sticks, and Styrofoam balls, which had to be properly weighted and balanced before they were released. The rockets ran along a vertical string into “space,” where they delivered resupply materials to a stranded astronaut!

Edgelea STEM Night

Our most recent event was hosted at Edgelea Elementary School, a local school that holds an annual STEM showcase for its students and their families. Our chapter prepared an activity called “The Toilet Paper Solar System”, which described the relative distances of planets to our sun. After rolling out a long roll of toilet paper (about 50 sheets), SEDS members helped students to plot the correct locations of our planets. In the end, students were able to see the truly immense scale of our solar system (with each small sheet of toilet paper representing 72 million miles)!


Purdue SEDS Members and an Edgelea student show off their solar system model

Passing on our knowledge and passion for space has been an incredible privilege for Purdue SEDS. Community outreach has been among our highest priorities, as the young minds that we inspire today will someday become the SEDS members that shape the future of space exploration.

Technical Projects
High Altitude Balloon

In conjunction with our department’s AIAA chapter, our SEDS chapter decided to be ambitious this year and have four high-altitude balloon teams. All four have different goals. One is seeking to get a great picture of the earth, one will be performing several unique scientific experiments within its payload box, one will be employing a unique design to achieve a record-high altitude, and another will be featuring a self-manufactured balloon. We will be launching these four balloons over the next two weeks and look forward to achieving success in the Global Space Balloon Challenge.

High-Powered Rockets

SEDS has always had a tradition with rockets.  We have weekend rocket builds for high power certifications through the Tripoli Rocketry Association.  We have about 30 students who are building their own rockets and launch at regional meets monthly.  We also take these skills to compete in competitions.  Our current team is building a rocket with a ten pound scientific payload to ten thousand feet to compete in the Experimental Sounding  Rocket Association’s International Rocket Engineering Competition this June in Salt Lake City, Utah.


A student-built rocket mid-lift-off

Satellite Competition Team

Recently, Purdue SEDS formed a team of 8 students to compete in the SSPI/SEDS Satellite Competition, themed Solving the Space Solar Power Puzzle (say that 5 times fast). So far, the team has mostly been conducting initial research, addressing topics such as engineering and technology requirements, time-frames and costs, and regulatory and political issues associated with implementation.

Aside from research, the team also had their first meeting recently with their mentor, Dr. Denis Curtin, CEO of XTAR. At the meeting, the team had a chance to discuss plans of approach, team subdivision, and initial ideas. The team is looking forward to learning more about the intriguing world of space-based energy and working with their esteemed mentor.

University Student Rocketry Competition

The USRC team has been moving along and just recently submitted their design proposal for review in mid March . The team is working on creating electronics sleds, working on motor retention systems, and identifying vendors for the raw materials. They are planning on having their electronics sleds and the majority of their materials purchased by May.

Social Events

To bring our organization together, we host a variety of social events. This semester we held our first stargazing night where we viewed the Moon, Mars, and the spectacular transit of Jupiter. We brought several telescopes and even a bonfire and s’mores to keep us warm. The chapter also hosts its annual Rocket Launch BBQ at a local park, when students can socialize, enjoy some food, and – of course – launch rockets.

Other social events Purdue SEDS offers include regular movie nights and Kerbal Space Program nights. As an organization devoted to space exploration, it is no surprise that members love play KSP, where one can design and launch rockets all over the solar system and we often gather to watch each other launch our creations. Movie nights are generally space related flicks that offer another chance to hang out as an organization.


Group shot from the stargazing event – taken at night!

In addition to all of these goings-on, Purdue SEDS occasionally hosts speakers, from both the aerospace industry and the academic community. For its latest speaker, Purdue hosted Dr. Michael Griffin, the 11th Administrator of NASA on Thursday, April 7th as part of Purdue’s Engineering-Week events.

Through all of these activities and more, Purdue SEDS strives to bring together a diverse and passionate group of students from across the University to form a community around the common interest of space and space exploration.


The Illinois Space Society (ISS) at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


The Illinois Space Society (ISS) was founded at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in September 2003 by Kirk Kittell and Derek Meyers. ISS was created to develop a network of students and members who are interested in space exploration and development. The purposes of the Illinois Space Society are to:

  • Create a network of space supporters in the Champaign-Urbana area
  • To serve the community through educational outreach
  • To provide supporters with resources that will assist them in following their dreams in the field of space exploration

The Illinois Space Society has been a proud member of SEDS since November 2003.

In order to fulfill our purpose/mission, our (approximately 90) members take part in a variety of professional and community events as well as participate in the technical projects offered by ISS.

Technical Projects

Throughout this year, ISS members have been tirelessly working on a variety of technical projects. The Illinois Space Society focuses on more competition based projects in order to introduce our new members to project timelines (especially working with deadlines), as well as technical report writing. For returning members, these projects allow them to improve upon their technical skills. This year ISS has 7 different technical project opportunities:

1. NASA Student Launch:

The NASA Student Launch Competition is a high powered rocketry competition with a focus on the rocket payloads. This year’s design requires a robotic arm to lift a sample from the ground and place it into a horizontally positioned high powered rocket. The team must also devise the components that will lift the rocket to vertical and insert the igniter before launch. All of this must occur autonomously without human intervention. The rocket will then launch to approximately 5,280 feet and land safely. The competition will occur in Huntsville, Alabama, near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. ISS will be competing with groups from around the country in a weeklong event. Pictured are ISS member’s at last year’s competition.


2. Revolutionary Aerospace Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Competition:

RASC- AL is a full mission architecture engineering design competition managed by the National Institute of Aerospace. University groups compete to present at a forum in Cocoa Beach, Florida in June 2016 and for a chance to present at the AIAA conference. This year, the University of Illinois team chose the theme to design a mission for an Earth-Independent 1G space station. ISS’s team members have been in a partnership with students from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology for this project. The design this year is called the Habitable Environment for Research and Manned Exploration of Space (HERMES).

3. Hybrid Rocket Engine:

The Hybrid Rocket Engine project stemmed from an educational outreach demonstration designed and built by ISS members in spring of 2014. This year began with the completion of the test stand as well as submitting a proposal to compete in the 2016 Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC). In this year’s competition, teams must design, build, and launch a rocket carrying no less than 10lb of payload to a target apogee of their choosing. The hybrid rocket engine will be used for this competition. Pictured is the newly spun grain for our cold fire test in early March.


4. The Space Grant Midwest High Power Rocketry Competition:

The Space Grant Midwest High-Power Rocketry Competition is sponsored by the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium. A team of ISS members will be designing and building a high power rocket with an active drag system that will reach an apogee of 3,000 ft. above ground level and be recovered safely in flyable condition. It must also be able to fly, after one hour of alterations, to 75% of the altitude reached in the first launch.

5. The Micr-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams (Micro-g NExT)

The Micro-g NExT challenges undergraduate students to design, build, and test a tool or device that addresses an authentic, current exploration problem. This year’s challenge is to design and manufacture a sample collection and containment device which can mechanically obtain and secure a geology sample from loosely adhered surface rocks in microgravity. The overall experience includes hands-on engineering design, test operations, and educational/public outreach. Test operations are conducted in the simulated microgravity environment of the NASA Johnson Space Center Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL). Pictured is the ISS team’s tool for this year, the MACS tool, a Modular, hand-held Asteroid Chip Sampler.


6. CanSat Competition

The CanSat competition is a design-build-fly competition, focused on reflecting various aspects of real world missions including telemetry requirements, communications, and autonomous operations. The 2016 mission simulates a sensor payload traveling through a planetary atmosphere sampling the atmospheric composition during flight. The overall CanSat system is composed of two primary components: a glider and a re-entry container that protects the glider during ascent, “near-apogee” deployment and initial re-entry/descent. During flight the glider samples air pressure and temperature, as well as position
and velocity.

7. High Altitude Balloon

The High Altitude Balloon project is an effort by ISS students to launch a weather balloon up to about 100,000 feet. This balloon will carry a scientific payload of a suite of sensors, as well as a camera to capture the amazing views from the edge of space. The hope is that this project will help inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers as they work in a hands-on environment on a project that will reach higher than any other.

Watch our launch from last year at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8kDcF9n5IQ

For more information regarding these technical projects, visit our website http://iss.ae.illinois.edu

Presently, for most of the projects, our teams have finished writing their respective Product Design Review and have started construction. Following one more round of technical papers in March and April, students will be able to travel to the competition sites beginning in late April.

Community Service

The Illinois Space Society strives to give back to the community as often as possible. Our society’s largest engineering outreach day is Illinois Space Day, held usually every spring, but has been moved to the fall for 2016. For Illinois Space Day we invite a variety of elementary and middle school students to come and visit campus, and experience space related exhibits. Some of these include:

  • Space Shuttle Tile & Liquid Nitrogen – This exhibit demonstrates space shuttle tile and the physics and challenges of re-entry heating, as well as extreme cooling with liquid nitrogen. Demos include freezing and smashing a flower and a penny, observing the contraction of a frozen balloon, and eating frozen marshmallows.
  • Hybrid Rocket Engine – This exhibit demonstrates the basic principles of a combustion rocket engine.
  • Orbital Simulator – This exhibit demonstrates the physics behind gravitational orbits and allow students to get hands-on understanding by attempting to place their “satellite” (a marble) in orbit.
  • Illinois Space Society and other Aerospace Engineering Student Organization Technical Projects.

We usually have over 100 kids come and visit Illinois Space Day. Other outreach projects include the College of Engineering’s Engineering Open House. We exhibit some of the technical projects that we have been working on throughout the year as well as some of the exhibits shown above. This outreach event targets all ages and has thousands of attendees every year. Apart from that, we have organized and taught classes at local elementary schools in the fall, and are currently assisting a local Boy Scout troop obtain their Space Exploration Merit Badges. In the past we have participated in Millennium Girls and have assisted other University of Illinois student run organizations with their outreach programs.


We truly have created a network of space supporters at the University of Illinois. Throughout the year we coordinate a variety of space related events for our members. Each year we take a weeklong trip to the Wernher Von Braun Memorial Symposium (fall semester) and the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium (spring semester- which we are attending next week!), both hosted by the American Astronautical Society.


Around 12-16 students attend these symposiums and have the opportunity to listen to various speakers from different companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, NASA, and United Launch Alliance, just to name a few. Other than just listening, they are able to network with key professionals within the space industry during the meals and socials throughout the week. Other than our trips, ISS has monthly meetings to update our members as well as has one social event every month, whether it be a barbecue co-hosted by AIAA, movie nights, tailgates, and of course our biggest social event of the year, Yuri’s night. Pictured above are ISS members at the 2015 Wernher Von Brawn Memorial Symposium in Huntsville, AL.


Ad Astra!

The Illinois Space Society 2015-16 Executive Board

Alexander Case – Director

Christopher Lorenz – Assistant Director

Rick Wilhelmi – Technical Projects Director

Kelsey White – Educational Outreach Director

Lui Suzuki – Administrative Director

Sarath Panicker – Treasurer

Steven Macenski – Social Director

Christine Mehr – Engineering Council Representative

Marty Motz – Aerospace Undergraduate Advisory Board Representative

Sara Legg – SEDS Representative

For more information on the Illinois Space Society, please visit us at http://iss.ae.illinois.edu


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