Bede's Pupil receives an invitation to International Space Conference
Bill Richards, Maths Teacher and Chair of Galactic Challenge and UKSDC

Bede’s Upper Sixth pupil, Ellie Abel, has been invited to the IAC (International Astronautical Congress) in Paris later this month, following her success at this year’s ISSDC (International Space Settlement Design Competition) which was held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center this summer.


We interviewed Ellie to find out more about the conference itself, as well as how she is finding balancing her studies...

Hi Ellie! So I understand that following the ISSDC (International Space Settlement Design Competition) in the summer, you were approached by Kevin Simmonds, the CEO of Bluecube Aerospace who invited you to participate in a conference in Paris later this month. Can you tell me a bit who Bluecube Aerospace are and what they do?

Bluecube Aerospace provide incredible opportunities for pupils aged 10 to 18 to design, build, test and fly CubeSats (miniaturised satellites) before they reach university. But, you have to go through a strict interview process in order to be selected for their experiences. But they are trying to branch out to Europe and the UK so they’re trying to get on board pupils who have participated in the ISSDC. Bluecube Aerospace allow students to create large-scale space projects, like how you would if you were in NASA for example. One of the Bluecube Aerospace projects that I am going to be partaking in is building a Lunar Rover in 2025. At the moment, I am just designing the chassis out of CubeSats. Another project we are working on is creating a satellite for bacteria that can digest non-biodegradable plastic and seeing how it handles a low-earth orbit.

Can you tell me about the conference that you will be attending and what are you most looking forward to about it?

I am going to be attending the IAC (International Astronautical Congress) in Paris. It will provide a fantastic networking opportunity, to meet lots of different people. I am hoping to gain some inspiration on presenting to people at a conference as this is something that hopefully may be in my near future. I am currently submitting a paper to HICE (Hawaii International Conference on Education). If it gets accepted, then I will be going to Hawaii in January to perform my own presentation. I have never presented before - so being invited to the IAC to see what the atmosphere is like and meet like minded people my age as well as professionals.

What are you hoping to gain out of participating in the conference later this month?

I am hoping that the conference will connect me to professionals who may offer some material science opportunities. On top of my ongoing projects with Bluecube Aerospace, I aspire to partake in a number of projects to that I can apply my knowledge to. I would love to gain internship opportunities with some experienced professionals.

How are you managing to balance your studies with these incredible opportunities outside of school?

It can be very difficult. In the past, I have had to rearrange some things as my schedule both inside and outside of school is busy and things clash. Sometimes, it gets too much and you have to prioritise tasks. So what I like to do is create lots of lists and calendars in order of priority. If some things do not get done, I will push them into next month, rearrange them or (if I can) leave them for a different time. 

How have Bede’s helped you with your studies and with other opportunities outside of school?

Bede’s have helped me dramatically, simply because I was not even interested in Science before Year 10. I was purely interested in Sport and Drama - which was why I originally was attracted to Bede’s. I had an operation, which meant I was out for six months so I had to shift my focus to academics. Bede’s provided me with opportunities like the UK Space Design Competition and the Chemistry Founders Festival as well as extra-curricular activities involved in STEM and opened my eyes to a side of academics that I hadn’t seen before. As a result, I studied harder and with my teachers encouragement, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in STEM. Bede has provided me with the opportunity to gain qualifications I need to make my CV stand out - including competitions and opportunities for work experience. I have always taken advantage of catch up sessions, enabling me to teach myself Astronomy GCSE, alongside writing an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) as well as studying for my A Levels.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your hopes for the future?

My hopes for the future would be being part of a programme which might involve aerospace engineering from a structural, material science aspect. Or I would love to be an F1 Engineer! I love the thought of designing the chassis and the livery of the car. I’d love to be the person in the background who says “if we just make these simple adjustments and make this a bit more streamlined then the car would improve by 0.2 of a second!” 

I’d also love to come back to Bede’s to inspire younger pupils, specifically girls, because there is a distinct lack of exposure for aerospace and engineering opportunities within youth, let alone younger girls. I’d love to tell my story and hopefully be able to inspire young people, like myself.

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