Northwest AEA

STEM Blog

Area students participate in Space Settlement Design Competition

 

Last month, 96 students from 23 different schools in northwest Iowa loaded three charter busses that began the journey to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) near Houston, Texas. These students participated in the annual JSC Space Settlement Design Competition (SSDC) on March 24-26. The 96 Iowa students joined roughly 100 Texas students to form four companies that worked tirelessly to develop a proposal based on a request for proposal (RFP) around a space settlement on the planet of Mars. The RFP was developed by a retired senior engineer from the Boeing company and was supported by many acting NASA and Boeing engineers.  

The SSDC is an industry simulation activity in which students learn about the characteristics and activities of real careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by participating in a typical high intensity industrial assignment of great importance to the company, and requiring participation as a member of a large group of colleagues. The SSDC is a very realistic introduction to the realities of a typical technical career.

"The Space Settlement Design Competition gives not only students, but teachers, the opportunity to be involved in an authentic learning experience in the STEM fields,” said Jordan Menning, educational consultant at Northwest AEA, who organizes the trip each year. “Allowing students to work alongside with experts in the aerospace industry through the process of developing a future product provides an elite learning experience for kids.”

The students learn the details of space science; engineering; math; technology; systems engineering; integration; safety and reliability principles; teamwork; communications techniques; presentation preparation; scheduling; cost estimating; and time management, among other disciplines. 

The competition accurately emulates a real engineering company's high intensity activity with an overwhelming amount of work to be accomplished in a very short period of time, while working with a group of colleagues who are strangers of unknown capabilities. This educational activity allows students to work with real experts who work in the aerospace industry daily, while still developing a product within a 36-hour time-frame. 

04/20/2017 7:21 AM |Add a comment
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