We welcomed back the very recent OE, Hashir, who gave an inspiring presentation to students about his experience in being part of the Space Design competition.  Hashir was flown out to the Kennedy space centre, Florida, over the summer to compete in this international competition and led his team to international victory as the president of his company. Congratulations on an incredible achievement!
Hashir discusses his journey to the finals at Nasa, the invaluable skills he’s gained, and offers tips to students who are interested in joining the SDC team. Hashir is set to commence studying Computer Science & Maths at Imperial College London after receiving four A* grades in his A Levels this summer. We wish him all the best and look forward to having him back soon to inspire more Eltham College students.

You just completed your A-Levels here at Eltham College. What did you study and how did you find your time here?

I’ve been at Eltham since year 10. I left this summer having achieved 4 A* grades in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computer Science, now pursuing Computer Science & Maths at Imperial. I very much enjoyed my time at Eltham – my teachers really made me look forward to coming to school every day, especially Mr Collins.

You got through to the international Space Design competition and Won, congratulations. Can you tell us a bit more about this and why you applied?

I first joined the Eltham SDC team at the start of year 12, when it was being run by Liam Donnelly [the great]. My main goal was to enhance my university application and to try something new – I wasn’t even interested in space at this point. I had a great time winning regionals and nationals that year thanks to the expert leadership of Liam & co [Liam, Charlie, Louis, Kyle and Nathan, if memory serves].

What was the application process and how did you ensure you stood out?

The internationals team was selected shortly after the National finals in March. Team UK was made of 12 students pooled from all 4 companies. I was fortunate enough to be one of the 12 chosen – the best way to get selected is to try and win! Having a genuine determination and ownership of the project will stand out to the organisers who will be observing all competitors throughout the weekend.

You mentioned that people don’t need to have a particular interest in space to take part. Why is this?

You don’t necessarily need to be interested in space to start; by the end of your first regionals, you’ll probably be hooked anyways. What’s not to like about building bases on other planets!

Why did you decide to take part?

I decided to come back to the competition in 2021 because I loved the environment of the previous year’s nationals – you get to meet some really clever like-minded individuals, and work on a proposal which you can be truly proud of. [Also, it would’ve looked really weird if we didn’t enter a team after 2 years of national and international success, so our hands were kind of tied].

What was the most challenging aspect during the competition and how did you overcome it?

There are lots of challenging aspects within the competition. You’re bound to end up having to deal with a conflict surrounding an idea. Or perhaps the most challenging is managing to communicate effectively when everyone is sleep-deprived. Or it could be the stressful final moments of putting your slides together while the deadline is looming.
That all being said, once you persevere through the stressful times, you walk away with some brilliant memories and much better soft skills – it’s a real win-win!

And what was your most enjoyable experience and why?

They say it’s not the winning that counts. Can’t say I fully agree, becoming World Champions is one of my proudest moments to date. However I much more enjoyed the process of becoming world champions, working with some incredibly bright individuals [who are now very close friends!]. The competition is a reward in itself, much more than actually winning it.

How has it helped you to develop your skills for your future career plans?

There are skills you pick up in the SDC which you simply don’t elsewhere have the opportunity to as a student. Effective communication. Dealing with conflicts. Working in a large team. The intensified environment makes it much easier when you apply the same skills in the future – you won’t ever struggle to present again, once you’ve presented in front of 250+ people at NASA or Imperial!

What are you now studying and where?

Computer Science & Maths at Imperial College London.

What would be your top 3 tips to any students interested in taking part?

Engage with the mentoring scheme. A large part of my own success can be put down to the mentorship I received from Liam, so it shows that getting really involved with your mentor can take you to the very peak of the competition.
Immerse yourself in the SDC world. There is so much information [e.g existing settlements, subcontractors etc] to become familiar with, and having this knowledge in the back of your mind will work wonders on competition days.
Have fun! One of the only common factors between everyone who’s represented team UK at the internationals is that we love the competition. That’s why so many of us return to help run future competitions even once we’re done!