Reflecting on 24 incredible hours of Space Apps Enschede 2018

Written by: Sebastiaan den Boer

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On the 20th and 21st of October 2018, for the first time ever, NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge was hosted by Space Society Twente at the University of Twente. Simultaneously taking place at 200 locations in 75 countries, students and citizens were invited to participate in the largest hackathon in the world to work on 20 multidisciplinary challenges designed by NASA to solve problems here on Earth and in space.

On the first day of the hackathon, participants were welcomed by a special message from Astronaut Drew Feustel from aboard the International Space Station (I.S.S.). While orbiting around the Earth at a speed of 27,600 km/h, he stressed the importance of international collaboration to enable research and living in space.

Throughout the event, teams were supported by industry experts, volunteers from Space Society Twente and Junior Business Developers from Novel-T. With the assistance of Novel-T, teams were encouraged to develop an elaborate business plan to demonstrate the financial feasibility of their projects, and to continue with their ideas beyond the scope of the event.

“Space Apps Challenge was a good get away from my study routine. During the event I got the chance to meet new people and to work on a challenging problem within limited time. This was a good practice on delivering a result under pressure and teamwork. I also loved the topics of the challenges which pushed me to think out of the box but were also super fun to work with and didn’t necessarily require coding skills.”
“During the entire event support and personalized feedback by team was provided by experienced mentors. I would recommend these type of events to any tech enthusiast regardless of their experience or background.”

- Maria Jesus Luchsinger (participant of the CarboSens team)

On the final day of the hackathon, all teams presented their innovative solutions in tandem with their business plan. A total of six projects were presented and ranked on their scientific value, industry impact and innovative characteristics. Presented solutions included bracelet to monitor the amount of gas dissolved in astronauts’ blood and a Lab-on-the-chip solution for measuring the amount of methane on Mars, to name a few.

In the weeks following Space Apps Enschede, we are already seeing teams discussing possibilities to spin-off their solutions and individual participants leveraging their Space Apps experience to apply for internships and thesis projects. We are looking forward to hosting the 2019 edition of NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge on October 18-20, 2019.

The first Enschede edition of NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge was organized by Space Society Twente and made possible by Thales, Novel-T, HE Space, Student Union, University of Twente, Stichting Universiteitsfonds Twente and Grolsch.