2019 Interim Candidate Positions
Member at Large Candidates:
Charlie Nitschelm, University of New Hampshire
Throughout my college career so far, I have worked towards joining the space industry, and in particular, working on rockets. I started the University of New Hampshire’s SEDS chapter during the fall of 2017, my sophomore year as a mechanical engineering major, and has now grown to the largest, most interdisciplinary engineering organization at the college. The 2017-2018 school year was purely dedicated to learning basic rocket building techniques: simulating, launching and optimizing rockets using off-the-shelf solid engines. Once we understood the basic systems required to make a rocket, we moved toward designing our own hybrid engine, which we rightfully named Runaway, for the Spaceport America Cup in June 2020 (right after I graduate from UNH). 16 of our members (around 1⁄2 the organization) also travelled to San Diego to attend SpaceVision 2018 hosted by SEDS UCSD which was an experience that we will all cherish for a long time. During that conference, I ran for Chair of SEDS USA with the experience of what it takes to start and run a SEDS engineering and outreach chapter. The opportunity of becoming a Member at Large for SEDS USA will allow me to work with the Board of Directors, the entire SEDS community and outside sponsors to make SEDS USA stronger and the individual chapters better equipped and capable of making a greater impact at their university.
Although many projects I will start and lead will spawn from understanding the current state of SEDS USA and its chapters, I have three ideas that I think would make a big difference in the little guys (Individual chapters). The first idea/project and the one I am most excited about is to schedule a strongly encouraged meeting with a member or two of each SEDS chapter with myself or another Board of Director. This will allow a close, one on one conversation on how their chapter is doing, and what else
SEDS USA can do for them. The second idea/project, which is focused on the business side of SEDS chapters, is to disperse the business knowledge (proven tactics and documents for sponsorship, etc.) of veteran SEDS organizations as polished templates that will immediately give all the SEDS chapters a leg
up in financing initiatives and any other pertinent business tactics. The third idea/project, which is focused on the engineering side of SEDS Chapters, is based on the assumption that most of the engineering projects SEDS chapters are engaged in are roughly the same (rockets, engines, weather balloons, CubeSat’s, etc.). That being said, with proper organization, an online engineering community could be created that immediately connects rookie and veteran students together, enabling cross learning for the entire SEDS engineering community on any project a chapter might be tackling.
Lastly, I will be spending my summer working at Rocket Lab as a manufacturing engineering intern in Huntington Beach, California as a Matthew Isakowitz Fellow. This experience in the commercial space industry and being a member of a growing community of future space leaders will better equip me to enact greater change as Member at Large of SEDS USA.
Eitan Lis, The Ohio State University
I believe I am an excellent choice for the position of Member at Large because of my diverse range of experiences, my ability to identify pervasive issues and formulate solutions that resolve problems at every organizational level, and my passion for the space community. As someone who has founded and built three unique clubs, including my SEDS chapter, I have had the opportunity to plan programming on the local, national, and international scale. During my attendance at dozens of leadership conferences around the world, I have advocated for and worked to implement solutions to institutional problems. One of my proudest accomplishments was writing a constitutional amendment for a multinational religious youth group allowing membership to transgender people, which passed by unanimous vote. Additionally, as a result of my experiences on the chapter and regional levels, I intimately understand the struggles a leader faces when dealing with issues like participation. I have found that the strength of character required to continually motivate unmotivated members and leaders to remain engaged in the long term is too big a burden to expect anyone to bear alone. In order to bolster commitment to SEDS, as a Member at Large I know that it would be my responsibility to promote unity within the organization by acting as a support network for chapter leadership. I will work diligently to ensure that each chapter and every individual member feels compelled to act in the understanding that we, together, are responsible for the success of SEDS.
Now, there is a time when change and innovation are appropriate and necessary, and I do not believe that time is now. In anticipation of SpaceVision and this special election, I have been speaking with board members, CoC representatives, and chapter members to fully understand the current political climate in SEDS. Using this election opportunity to push an agenda or idea would obstruct progress already made by this year’s board. I believe that what is best for the organization right now is that the next elected Member At Large should fulfill two roles: the first of easing the transition of power and focusing on the success of current projects so that the Convention runs as smoothly as possible, and the second setting up the next elected Member At Large for success by planting the seeds for solutions to the major roadblocks facing the leader in this position.
Thank you and I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve.
Jacob Irwin, Columbia University
Joalda Morancy, University of Chicago
November last year was when I realized what taking initiative really was, and how exactly to do it. It was during this month I decided to establish a SEDS chapter at UChicago, a school where engineering is not focused on much. Ever since then, I have developed skills on how to manage an organization, how to act as a leader, and in general how to make things I believe in and dream of happen. SEDS-UChicago is slowly growing, but because of it, I’ve met so many other people at my college that are as passionate about space exploration as I am, and are willing to join in this effort of outreaching to the members of our school and our Chicago community.
I believe that acting as Member at Large for SEDS would allow me to bring the skills I’ve developed from beginning a chapter to the national board and utilize them in a sense that can benefit numerous other chapters. I also believe the position can teach me other skills that I can bring back to my growing chapter.
There are two ideas that I plan to implement through my position: a mentorship program, and also redesigning the SEDS-USA website, including the introduction of a blog.
For the mentorship program, I believe this is a great way for students within SEDS to be connected to real professionals in the aerospace industry. In school, I believe it is necessary to be able to have someone you can go to for any general questions, advice, and any sort of guidance. So having this mentorship program would accomplish this. My general plan is to create a form for students to sign up through that asks questions about why/how they would benefit from the program, and also their specific aerospace interests. There would also be a separate form for professionals to sign up through, and there would be some type of pairing process. I believe having this mentorship helps make SEDS as an organization more tight-knit.
I would like to redesign the SEDS website to make it more accessible for anyone who wants to use it. I would also like to introduce some sort of blog where different chapters can post about the projects and whatnot that is occurring within their chapter. Other general posts about different things happening within the aerospace community can be posted within the blog too. I believe that implementing this will act as some type of gateway between different chapters in SEDS, meaning other chapters can, in an accessible way, see what other chapters are accomplishing, and gain new ideas through that.
I am passionate about making an impact on the development space and helping others realize how important it is, and I believe that acting as a board member for SEDS would allow me to express that passion to an even larger audience and be apart of a group who hopes to achieve this same goal as me.
Megan Bennett, Virginia Tech
Hello SEDS Board, Staff and CoC!
My name is Megan Bennett and I am a rising Senior in Electrical Engineering at Virginia Tech. I focus in Controls Systems, Autonomy and Robotics which means I have a habit of being passionate about the obscure.
On the Virginia Tech level, I had the pleasure of co founding the Society of Women in Aviation and Space Exploration [SWASE] and I am the current Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Ambassador Team President. These collegiate level leadership roles emphasize that I have the credentials to inspire and lead students.
In regards to SEDS involvement, over the last three years I have participated and led sub teams in the Students on Capitol Hill [SOCH] event lobbying for space related policies, held the Treasurer position at my home chapter, participated in the NASA Autonomous Mars Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center, celebrated Yuri’s night, and the most impactful SEDS event I have been a part of is Spacevision.
In 2017, I attended Spacevision Ignite in Cape Canaveral, Fl. My socks for space were blown off to say the least. I roomed with Sumayya for SOCH the year before so I had high hopes when buying my ticket, however, I did not expect to meet some of the most inspirational people I know to date; Mike Mongo, Prem Griddalur, William Pomerantz, Sharon Hagle and Marcia Flamengo to name a few.
My goal as SEDS USA Member at Large if I am to be elected, is to throw myself into projects with direction and organization. One way I foresee myself accomplishing the duties of MaL is seeking a theme for each month I would be in office. Some theme ideas that can revitalize old projects and include future SEDS projects include:
(1) Looking back at the successes of SEDS alumni, (2) Moving forward into the future of SEDS and Space industry, (3) Appreciating Technology through hands on projects and outreach, (4) Encouraging chapters to inspire women in stem and Space, (5) Creating a space and engaging with minorities and underrepresented groups in Space Exploration, (5) Looking back at the successes of SEDS alumni, and (6) Inspiring Future Generations.
With the help of current Board Members, staff and the existing chapters, I am sure that I can help guide SEDS into the direction that the current chair envisions SEDS going into and propel the future of space technology.
My program of work is included in the link seen here, this is a prototype where chapters can share accomplishments and contributions to the Success of SEDS:
Thank you all for your time.
A proven leader who has a well-rounded idea of not only what it takes to foster and grow an organization but also how to balance that with realistic constraints.
Officer Duties: Chair of the Board of Directors
- Lead the Board of Directors and SEDS-USA
- Schedule and preside over regular meetings
- Coordinate and manage the efforts of Board and Staff members
- Provide vision for the future of the organization
Someone who can take over for the Chair when necessary and be effective at managing the national team. In addition, this officer coordinates partners and sponsors in industry and beyond.
Officer Duties: Vice Chair of the Board of Directors
- Manage national fundraising, including for the annual SpaceVision conference
- Serve as the face of SEDS-USA to industry and organizational partners
- Ensure effective communication between the Boards of Directors. Trustees, and Advisors
- Assume the role of Chair when called upon
Someone who really wants to learn about handling the accounting for a national 501(c)3 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.
Officer Duties: Treasurer
- Ensure continuation of the organization’s nonprofit status
- Manage SEDS-USA donations and spending
- Develop and revise an annual budget
A student with keen attention to detail that, beyond taking notes during meetings, will keep the national organization running smoothly and help to ensure the communication/preservation of information across the SEDS infrastructure now and into the future.
Officer Duties: Secretary
- Keep the machinery of SEDS-USA running smoothly
- Maintain and reinforce continuity of information, including note-taking and file management
- Track and manage membership information
Chair of the Council of Chapters
Community leaders wanted! The Council of Chapters Chair is the liaison between the SEDS chapters and the Board of Directors, making real the focus of SEDS-USA on the development of its student members.
Officer Duties: Chair of the Council of Chapters
- Organize and lead monthly CoC meetings
- Distribute newsletters to and collect feedback from chapters
- Facilitate interaction across SEDS’ membership and communicate their concerns to the Board
- Guide new chapters and connect them with others in their region
Members at Large
Two passionate SEDS members with specific ideas and the drive to implement them at a national level. In addition to vision, a proven track record of successful execution is key.
Officer Duties: Member at Large
- Manage projects and events
- Take point on new national initiatives
- Support chapter participation in national activities