Physics: Bede’s Team Are UKSDC National Finalists

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Over the final weeks of Autumn term, Infinity Ecosystem Solutions was working hard to enter as a company in the UK Space Design Competition, or UKSDC.

The brief was, relatively, simple: 'Design a portable ecosystem to support 50 people with food and oxygen.' The catch to this proposal was that the ecosystem had to be located on a foreign planet, millions of miles away and was to support the pioneers of human civilisation, the next-generation explorers.

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This all sounded a little bit like Star Wars to me when I first came across the UKSDC in early November, more fiction than science. Despite this, I looked into the competition, watched previous entries, read around the subject, and eventually decided that this was something Bede's could take on.

I set about assembling the best scientists and mathematicians in Lower Sixth to tackle this surprisingly intricate request for proposal.

To come up with a complete concept, we needed to consider spacing requirements, oxygen production levels, diets and life cycles; all within in a very tight deadline of five weeks.

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Team members took to tackling the different aspects of the project in earnest. Jack Rickard and Ben Stannard competed to solve a six-variable simultaneous equation to calculate required food amounts, Haris Duratovic threw Google Sketchup ideas left right and centre, while Emilie Stone, Nadia Gjerdingen, and Marcus McCabe hotly discussed the qualities of a vegan diet and everyone debated every detail of the anfrastructure that would support such a colossal system.

The conference room was really alive with open thought and ideas.

We spent four hours per week, every week, to refine and perfect our myriad of ideas to come up with a coherent, plausible system. Presenting the idea was the next challenge.

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After much debate, we decided to integrate a PowerPoint Presentation with concept art and structural drawings for our presentation. Thanks to Haris' exceptional editing skills, we were able to 'stitch' the presentation onto a background while we filmed the presenters explaining our ideas.

It was a very tight finish, but we managed to perfect the final product just in time to send off to Imperial College, London, to be judged. Everyone had worked incredibly hard on the project and we were all looking forward to having some time off.

After a long wait over Christmas and a nerve-wracking Friday afternoon, I finally received the email announcing our success; we had endured two rounds of judging to emerge as one of the national finalists. Our efforts had paid off and we are now to attend the national final, held at Imperial College at the end of the Spring Term.

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This was incredibly exciting to hear and we cannot wait to represent Bede's in building something much larger as part of a multi-team company. It will be a great challenge for all of us, however we are certain our passion for STEM subjects shall drive us through, potentially to the international finals.

It has been a hugely enjoyable experience working on such an interesting and unique project and I am extremely grateful to have been able to work with a group of such talented Bedians. Now, as we look towards the National final, we reflect on our hard work and hope that the next year of Lower Sixths will be inspired to pursue the next round of the annual competition or other similar endeavors.

It is easy now to say that Infinity Ecosystem Solutions as a team cannot wait to represent Bede's on the national field of space science and engineering.

 

Learn more about the Physics department at Bede's >

Learn more about life in the Sixth Form at Bede's >

Learn more about Camberlot, Ben's boarding house >