Design Competitions® are industry simulation events for high school students, set in the future. The Competitions emulate, as closely as possible, the experience of working as a member of an industry design and proposal team. Students form companies, complete with a formal management structure and roles and responsibilities, and are provided with industry volunteers to serve as Company CEO, in order to design the next space settlement in a futuristic chronology where humanity is expanding into the solar system. 

Each new settlement is sponsored by the Foundation Society, a philanthropic entity that, in fifty years, has found itself as the intra-solar body responsible for delivering humanity to the far reaches of space. Each year, the Society releases a Request For Proposal (RFP) – a series of requirements that outline the next space settlement they wish to develop.

Image: Bryan Versteeg / spacehabs.com

Student companies must design an overall structure, define construction methods, determine quantities of electrical power and water, design computer and robotics systems, specify allocation of interior space, show examples of pleasant community design, and provide estimated costs and schedules for completion of the project. The Competition concludes with the teams’ presentations of briefings describing their designs to a panel of judges.

The experience of participating in a Design Competition teaches young people optimism for the future, technical competence, management skills, knowledge of space environments and resources, appreciation for relationships between technical products and human use, teamwork, and techniques for preparing effective documentation. It requires that students integrate their knowledge of and utilize skills in space science, physics, math, chemistry, environmental science, biology, computer science, writing, speaking, art, and common sense.

SpaceSet competitions are all about students preparing professional business proposals: a response to a technical request to design and build a space settlement.


In their dealings with aerospace organisations, the Society look for the following:

  1.       Innovation
  2.       Balance
  3.       Credibility
  4.       Thoroughness

All participants must be aware of the overwhelming focus the Society places on these criteria – and are recommended to calibrate their designs and proposals accordingly!

Proposals are independently judged by engineers and aerospace professionals with decades of experience – ensuring students are receiving feedback from some of the most experienced individuals across the globe.