On their way to conquer Space

APJ Abdul Kalam inspired thousands of children with his book ‘Ignited Minds’ and the message to keep dreaming and achieving the unknown with all you have. That probably shows in today’s youth for whom even sky is not the limit. The prestigious 20th Annual International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC), 2015 held from August 2-4, 2015, at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA saw 12 students of Noida’s Amity International School winning the competition among the best from six continents. 

A team member, Dhruv Khanna, handling the ‘automation engineering’ aspect as part of the proposal tells Metrolife, “I had participated in the competition before but we never moved beyond the semi-finals. This time we made sure we follow an organised approach and use the technology without going overboard with it. Each and every detail had to be thoroughly researched and the final 43 hours of non-stop proposal-making happened because of the preparation we had done.”

The competition puts high school students in the shoes of aerospace industry engineers as they design a city in space, apt for housing over 10,000 people. A platform to showcase creativity, technical competence, management skills, space environment knowledge, teamwork, and presentation techniques to conquer the problems inherent in designing a Space Settlement or a Space Colony, the competition aims to impart industrial skills to engineers.

The Amity team designed two main settlements and four outlying settlements to accommodate a population of 24,000 as well as a transient population of 3,000 on Mars using a transparent material ‘Aluminum Oxinitride’. While designing the settlement, the team members worked on all aspects, including structural engineering, automation, operations, human engineering, marketing and finance, schedule and cost.

Amity International School was in a company named ‘Vulture Aviation’ and was clubbed with other teams namely ISD Lorena (Texas), University High School (Irvine), Uruguay School Division and Cardiff Sixth Form College (Wales). Says Khanna, “Communication was a big challenge. We were to work with people we never knew anything about.” The team worked on the design for 43 hours and finally presented it before the judges and aerospace experts.

From building villas and electricity to public and private transport on Mars, their project covered each and every aspect of living that entails life on Earth as well. The students mention that ‘research took a lot of time and minute observation’, which shows in their presentation. They proposed a total cost of US$1,225,571,360,000 for a settlement of 24,000 inhabitants in a colony on Mars. Says Grishma Purewal, “Space design is very interesting and life on Mars has been a trendy concept for sometime now, so putting together our minds, we worked out the logistics.”

Dhruv Khanna, Aabhas Vaish, Aman Agarwal, Anuj Harisinghani, Rishab Srivastava, Chittaranjan Prasad, Suchit Jain, Rahul Rajput, Tanay Asija, Anant Chaturvedi, Grishma Purewal and Mudit Gupta, the members of the team had a glorious welcome back home.  Says Purewal, who was looking over the ‘Business Development, Scheduling and Costing’ aspect, “The support has been coming from everywhere.” She adds, “I don’t like ‘the only girl participant’ factor being highlighted in my case. My interest in the field should be enough to do the talking.” In the same breath she concludes, “The moment of win was a really good feeling. It was hard, really tiring, but worth it.”


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