Every year since 2012, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has held the International Space Apps Challenge during a single weekend in April. This event presents multidisciplinary group projects related to space and earth-observation to work on during a worldwide 24-hour hackathon. The event is preceded by an optional data-bootcamp which provides participants with ample opportunity to get familiar with NASA open datasets. Projects are themed or categorized based on interest, however participants are free to pursue any idea they might have. If such a project does not cover one of the provided challenges, the project is only eligible for local awards and cannot be nominated for the global competition.
In previous years, an average-sized group of students (5-15) has traveled from the University of Twente to the Space Business Incubation Center in Noordwijk to participate in this event. In fact, since 2015 there has been at least one student of the University of Twente that participated in a team which received some type of local and global awards. In 2016, a team made up by mainly ITC faculty students (SenseAIR) made it to the international People's Choice Semi-Finals (Top 25) and consequently received a similarly-named award.
These student initiatives show that there is ample interest in space-related activities, however the University of Twente previously did not promote nor support students pursuing these types of activities. With Space Society Twente, there is now a group of students who are enthusiastic about such activities. This association therefore serves as a platform to include students from various disciplines in space-related projects that promote creativity and innovation at the University of Twente.
Besides having a direct influence on student development and value in the industry, an event such as the International Space Apps Challenge also heavily involves and promotes local businesses and organizations. This is mainly achieved by bringing students from various backgrounds in direct contact with local businesses serving as experts in their field, while providing helpful and professional guidance in their projects.
Find out more about the current iteration of the Space Apps Challenge in Enschede on the associated event page.