Bede's Senior School hosts Regional Round of UKSDC
Bill Richards, Maths Teacher and UK Space Design Competition Organiser

Saturday 18 November saw the largest Regional round of the UK Space Design Competition that we have ever hosted, with four teams comprised of ninety-six students from nine schools. Bede’s were paired with Cardinal Newman School in Condor, whilst Sevenoaks, Riddlesdown Collegiate, Shoreham Academy, Downlands Academy, Nonsuch High School and, new to our regional, Great Ballard and Coombe Wood made up the opposition.

The teams arrived in rather less-than-friendly conditions, in various bedraggled states, for breakfast in the Recital room, followed by a number of introductory briefings where the teams finally found out the task for the day. This was a change to the way things have been done previously, where the teams received a press release during the days leading in to the competition and meant that nobody could make preparations prior to the day.

The Request for Proposal (RFP) was to bid for the second major settlement on the moon, set in the year 2042 which, whilst in the future, is very much in the near future and teams would be expected to make use of many technologies available today. Each team has a CEO assigned to them, who is there to help with organising the team structure and to give occasional advice, albeit this often consists of further questions rather than answers! Two of the CEOs this time were alumni – Alex Gee and Ellie Abel (who was CEO for the Bede’s/Cardinal Newman team), which was great to see.

Eddie Rowley was elected President of the team and Joseph Connolly the VP for business and marketing, with other leadership roles shared between the two schools and the teams then got down to work.

pupils working in the UK Space Design Challenge

A visit to the various teams as they work is a fascinating snapshot on how the team dynamics are working and can vary substantially from room to room and often depends on the time of day. Bede’s and Cardinal Newman looked purposeful, well-led and impressively calm throughout the whole day; not that other teams were not these things, but there was an air of quiet confidence about the way they went about their work that was great to witness.

A third alumni, Rebecca Irving, arrived mid-afternoon to witness some of the work, but was there primarily to help with the judging. Rebecca works for the UK Space Agency and we were thrilled to have her involved with the event.

Rebecca presenting in the UK Space Design Challenge

Following supper, the teams again gathered in the Recital room and Rebecca introduced herself to the teams and gave a short speech, together with a recommendation that the students should definitely consider careers in the space industry before joining her fellow judges to listen to the presentations.

Condor’s presentation was impressively glossy and well-delivered, although a further change to the way the competition ran, with the presentation party being excluded from answering questions, meant that some tricky questions had to be fielded by some of the less-experienced members of the team.

Whilst they had unquestionably the best-presented proposal, winning is typically about fulfilling all the requirements of the RFP, or at least as many as you can and even then it is often the team which includes some innovative and futuristic ideas that is successful. There was the typically anxious wait as the judges presented their deliberations, before announcing, to raucous approval, that Condor were the winners. Bede’s and Cardinal Newman now progress to the UK Final at Imperial College London in early March.

team photo in the UK Space Design Challenge

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