Although the Space Settlement Design Competition was developed for
participation by high school students, it is possible for non-students
to provide assistance by mentoring participating student teams. This
type of involvement in the Competition is recommended as an activity
for Chapters or Sections of technical societies, and business or civic
groups. Individuals who decide to mentor teams are advised to recognize
this involvement as a serious responsibility, and to stay with the team
until either the proposal has been submitted or the students on the
team decide to discontinue the relationship. Mentors can do just about
anything to help the team with the project, except that the students
must do the actual design.
Usually the first step in the mentoring process is to find a teacher
at a local high school who is interested in sponsoring a team of students
in the Competition. This needn't be a big commitment for the teacher;
mentors can do much of the work. It is the teacher's responsibility
to inform students about this opportunity, gather the students into
a team, and assure that the school administration is supportive of the
Competition. Incidentally, sometimes classes (especially Physics classes)
will compete, and use the Competition as a class project. Indeed,
Competition materials are being successfully used to teach classes in
both high school and college curricula. We know of some teams that have
been mentored by an adult without assistance from a teacher in the school,
although this is unusual.
Once the team is assembled, mentors can do some or all of the following
Every competing team must register to get the Final RFP, and mentors
can help with this by providing FAX service.
When the Final RFP arrives, mentors can go through it with the students
and help them interpret what their design must do.
Mentors can help the students put together a requirements matrix to make
sure they completely satisfy the design requirements.
Mentors can help students find information that will be useful to them
in preparing their design.
Mentors can help the team plan and schedule their work to complete the
40-page written report describing their design by the deadline.
Like a real manager in industry, a mentor can assist communication
processes between students doing different parts of the design, so that
all of the components are compatible.
Mentors can help students learn how to manage themselves.
Mentors can help the team develop a report format that will get all of
the design details into the page limit.
Mentors can review and critique the team's work, and advise them of
design deficiencies to correct.
Mentors can help the team print, copy, and mail their final product.
After the proposal has been submitted to the judges, and while the
team is waiting for the judges' selection of the twelve Finalist teams,
it would be useful to help the students develop a briefing describing
the Qualifying Competition design, and to help them learn effective
Mentors may not, however, help with the design itself, or provide
And, if your team is one of the twelve that earns an invitation to
the Finalist Competition, mentors can help the students get publicity,
raise funds for the trip, and get prepared for an invigorating and
exhausting three-day design and briefing ordeal.