New York, April 28, 2020 — The winners of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced today, honoring the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to flattening the curve when it comes to the climate crisis, social injustice, or economic inequality. The Junior Space Entrepreneur Program (JSEP), a space education initiative of Space Foundation, received an Honorable Mention in the award competition. A panel of eminent judges selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 3,000 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more.
Cultivating new generations of space contributors, Space Foundation endeavors to improve the quality of space education for students through immersive, hands-on experiences. To help educators and communities groom students as future space technology professionals, Space Foundation promotes tighter integration of space themes as a “critical knowledge base” in the daily core curriculum, and programming designed for close alignment to soft and hard skills to advance space innovation and meet the needs of the evolving job market.
“There seems no better time to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, resources, and, in some cases, their scale to tackle society’s biggest problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have uncovered some of the smartest and most inspiring projects of the year.”
Space Foundation launched a pilot of JSEP with a goal of building the future workforce of space professionals. This not only entails preparing students for careers in space, but more importantly, to transfer space technology for the betterment of life on Earth. JSEP inspires youth to secure STEM positions within the space industry through real-world simulations, which teach and connect critical 21st century skills to real-world work environments.
“Through this immersive education program, we put students in various roles, so they can experience what a career in the space industry will be like,” said Space Foundation Vice President – Education Bryan DeBates. “Space is an inspiring platform for engaging students. What is unique and innovative about this program is that this program not only teaches science concepts to students, but also gives them the tools to be business professionals and entrepreneurs.”
The first weeklong JSEP program for students was offered in January 2020, with 60 students engaged in a “Mission to Mars” curriculum created with support from Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain to learn space business and entrepreneurship principles. This pilot program was funded by Lockheed Martin.
"Our partnership with the Space Foundation took a real-life approach in preparing students for their careers," said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager for Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin. "We asked these young space entrepreneurs to not only develop a commercial space product, we also had them develop the business plan and then present to a panel of judges in a Shark Tank-style competition. The students we worked with are well on their way to making a big impact in our industry, and we hope they'll be doing it at Lockheed Martin."
Participants embarked on a complete Mars mission, starting with learning the basics of project management taught through the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation. Applying teamwork and experiential learning, students prepared and launched rockets to the Moon and Mars; completed tasks on Mars to further knowledge of the red planet; prepared for the next wave of Mars explorers; and safely returned them back to Earth.
Beyond STEM and space education, a growing perception exists that education in general fails to meet the needs of current and future generations in the workplace. A recent Pearson study indicates that students believe schools fail to adequately prepare them for the modern workforce, and the necessary higher education and/or job training is cost prohibitive or viewed as insufficient.
The world will not only need astronauts and engineers to travel to Mars and beyond, but also doctors, lawyers, welders, electricians, financiers, and robotics and AI specialists. These jobs and skills are highlighted and brought to the attention of students in the JSEP program. It will take all of these jobs and more to explore the Solar System and bring new insights and solutions to solve planet Earth’s biggest challenges. For students that love space and want to work in the space industry, there will be a future of job opportunities, many not yet defined, available to them.
About the World Changing Ideas Awards
World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.
About Space Foundation
Founded in 1983, Space Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the world’s premier organization to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate on behalf of the global space community. It is a leader in space awareness activities, educational programs, and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium. Space Foundation headquarters is in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, and has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere®, and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. Space Foundation has a Washington, D.C., office, as well as field representatives in Houston and on the Florida Space Coast. It publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space Certification™ and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit both websites — www.SpaceFoundation.org and DiscoverSpace.org — and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.