SSPI works with a range of space-focused student organizations to help students understand the exciting challenges and career opportunities in commercial space and satellite. The most important part of that work is the Mentor: an SSPI working professional willing to give time to building a relationship with an undergraduate or graduate student and offer advice on anything from engineering to starting a career.
What Can SSPI Mentors Do?
Mentor a Team
SSPI hosts annual research and satellite design competitions with the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Student teams learn space and satellite fundamentals while applying them to solving a problem. Competition topics have included designing a satellite network for Mars exploration and a robotic space tug in Earth orbit, making recommendations on space debris and in-space manufacturing, and developing nanosatellite payloads. See our Competitions pages for more.
Mentors connect with a team through online conferencing and email for a period of 3-5 months. Depending on the needs of the team, Mentors may advise on defining the mission, organizing the work or judging the feasibility of solutions, but the work itself is performed by the team. The average time commitment is between 4 and 8 hours per month.
Mentor an Individual
Mentors can also participate in structured remote mentoring of an individual student or young working professional through SSPI’s partnership with the Space Generation Advisory Council. After completing a form identifying their interests and experience, Mentors are matched with a mentee, who is charged with reaching out and engaging the Mentor. Materials are provided to both to establish a structure for discussion and the exchange of questions and information. Typical mentoring relationships involve weekly, biweekly or monthly online meetings and last from 3 to 6 months.
SSPI members can also participate as judges in annual competitions. In this more limited role, members review reports written by the team and may attend an online presentation day in which teams present their findings or demonstrate their projects. This can be a good role for people with more limited available time or may be combined with mentorship.
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS USA)
SSPI hosts an annual research competition with SEDS, an international student organization whose purpose is to promote space exploration and development through educational and engineering projects. SEDS is fostering the development of future leaders and contributors in the expanding space industry. The nationwide SEDS USA organization oversees individual chapters at universities and colleges, enabling them to be connected and create networks with each other.
UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS)
SSPI hosts an annual research and design competition with UKSEDS, the United Kingdom’s national student space society. For over 30 years, UKSEDS has been supporting students and young professionals across the country by running events, providing resources, and teaching them new skills. Its mission is to improve the knowledge, skillsets and hands-on experience level of students and provide a forum through which students can become involved in the space community, both nationally and internationally.
Space Generation Advisory Council
SSPI provides professional mentors to the annual remote mentoring program of SGAC, a global non-governmental, non-profit (US 501(c)3) organization and network which aims to represent university students and young space professionals ages 18-35 to the United Nations, space agencies, industry, and academia. The SGAC network of members, volunteers and alumni has grown to more than 16,000 members representing more than 165 countries. SGAC works to raise awareness among the next generation of space professionals on a global scale working together with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). By hosting international, regional, local and thematic events, as well as attending various events globally, SGAC provides its members with opportunities to expand their knowledge of international space policy issues as well as space topics of a scientific or technical nature.
Annual Robotics Competition of the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE)
SSPI brings satellite themes to the annual robotics competition of the student division of ATMAE, which culminates at each year’s annual conference where robots developed by university teams compete to meet the competition objectives. ATMAE is a professional association with more than 1,000 innovative members who share technology, management and applied engineering ideas, research, and applications that impact the future positively. Since 1967 ATMAE members, who are college and university educators, administrators, students, and industry professionals, have been dedicated to solving complex technological problems and developing the competitive technologist and applied engineering workforce.
Other Mentoring Opportunities
Other SSPI groups have also developed successful mentoring programs that may be of interest.
SSPI Mid-Atlantic Mentoring
The Mid-Atlantic chapter of SSPI in the Washington DC metro area provides an annual mentoring program focused on local students and young professionals. For more information, see the chapter page.
SSPI’s women’s group, Women in Space Engagement, launched a mentoring program for women in the industry in 2020. Participation is limited to women who are SSPI members either individually or through their employers. For more information, see the SSPI-WISE page.