Space Settlement Design Competitions® are designed for high school students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). By providing a simulated industry environment for our participants to work in, along with complex futuristic problem and the dynamics of large teams to deal with, students will require guidance and support.

This is where a mentor is helpful to their success. The SSDC journey is challenging, and ultimately beneficial, for students; increased success comes with the deft guidance of a mentor.

The Role Of A Mentor

Mentors can do just about anything to help the team with the project; but it is the students that must do the actual design. Mentors should be onboard from the word go and available from the earliest stages of planning right through to the proofreading. The best mentor is one that is there to keep the students moving towards their submission, helping them avoid getting bogged down in decision making. Ultimately, they’re happy to assist in any way that does not see them actually contribute to the writing of the submission.

Wait – I’m Not A Rocket Scientist!!

This is the number one concern we get from teachers and parents! And the answer is, your students don’t need you to be a scientist or engineer. They need the guidance and support that a mature professional can provide. SSDCs challenge students in ways they don’t expect; the biggest issues they’ll face are actually non-technical in nature.

The best support you can provide students is to assist with areas such as the following:

  •         Group Dynamics + Communication:
  •         Maintaining A Schedule
  •         Interpreting the Request For Proposal (RFP):

Information Overload: we provide too much information to our participants. On purpose. Learning how to sift through the relevant information, and make timely decisions, is critical to success.

Who Can Be A Mentor?

It’s also important to note that mentors do not have to be teachers. A mentor does not have to have any specific qualifications, or anything more than an interest in the competition. They can be parents, teachers, community members, or ex-students, anyone interested in supporting a team.

If a participating team makes the ISSDC Finals, students must be accompanied by legal guardians, or their representatives.

First Steps

Once you’ve decided to embark on the SSDC qualifying competition journey – or have had some students approach you, telling them they’ve already made that leap! – you can involve yourself in some, or all, of the following:

  • Ensure you’ve registered with AEC, so you have the final issued Request For Proposal (RFP), and access to supporting documentation;
  • Go through the RFP with students, helping them interpret the key requirements for their design;
  • Guide them in developing a requirements matrix. They can use this as a guide, to make sure they completely satisfy the RFP design requirements;
  • Support them in finding information that will be useful to them in preparing their design;
  • Help plan and schedule their work to complete their 40-page written report. Often the most value a mentor can offer here is access to work space outside of school hours – either school facilities (if you’re a teacher), or a conference room at work (for parents, over weekends);
  • Like a real manager in industry, a mentor can assist communication processes between students doing different parts of the design, so that all components are compatible;
  • Teach students how to manage themselves;
  • Mentors can review and critique the team’s work and advise them of design deficiencies to correct;
  • Mentors can help the team compile and submit their final report;

If your team is successful, and earns an invitation to the International Space Settlement Design Competition Finals, 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.