In 1903, Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. 8 years later, she won a second one. Her fields of study were physics and chemistry. Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space, studied to earn a doctorate in physics after discovering the world of science during her preparation leading up to her flight in space in 1963.
Today’s women are capable of contributing significantly to technological advancements benefiting the human race as well as shine in science careers. Their unique perspective and skills makes them sought-after and valuable problem solving scientists.
This contest is designed to awake the inventor in young women worldwide.
Entry deadline: February 8, 2013
Each constest applicant will receive an official inventor certificate including the signatures of female space scientists and female astronauts.
One hour conversation with a small group of astronauts from several countries via web conferencing and an official winner certificate including the signatures of female space scientists and female astronauts.
Finalist entries will be exibited at Air and Space Museums worldwide and each finalist will receive an official finalist certificate including the signatures of female space scientists and female astronauts.
Legal notice: Tax liability, if any, will be the sole responsibility of the recipient. Minors (as determined by their jurisdiction of residence) may not participate or be awarded a prize without the consent of a parent or guardian.
“I would not say that female cosmonauts are not welcomed in the Russian space program. I must say, however, that all spaceflight hardware, including spacesuits and spacecraft comfort assuring systems, was designed mostly by men and for men,” said Valentina Tereshkova after her trip in space.
Due to the limited number of astronauts, modern space suits come in a limited choice of sizes and in one-design-fits-all style. These space suits have many rigid areas. Each astronaut is fitted in a closest-in-size suit using a padding system. Women astronauts require more padding because of their body shape and size. Current padding systems generate significant movement resistance which results in a substantial waste of energy and limits astronauts’ ability to perform extended space walks.
As a girl, you are inherently qualified to understand women’s unique attributes. As an inventor, you hold a clear advantage to create a solution to help women explore space more comfortably. Your challenge is to conceive a new padding system or a new type of adjustable space suit that improves freedom of movement for tomorrow’s space explorers.
- 13 to 19 years old
- Individual or group
Note: Male or female adult supervision is authorized and recommended
NOTE: One version of the entry must be in English.
1) Put the following elements in a zipped folder
- Entrant (individual or group) information form (download entry form)
- Summary of invention including title of invention, problem statement, problem solving method, invention key features, and conclusion (download summary form)
- 24″x36″ (61 cm x 91.5 cm) invention presentation poster in PowerPoint electronic format (free downloadable templates here). The poster must include a photo of the inventor(s).
- Photo(s) or video (maximum 3 minutes) of a prototype/model of your invention (maximum size: 16″x10″ (40.5 cm x 25 cm)). Feel free to use a mannequin or doll to display your prototype/model.
2) Email your entry to invention -at- womenofaviationweek.org. If you are having trouble emailing us your entry, you may send us an email that includes a link to download your zipped folder. Please note that all entries must be received in our inbox by Midnight on the date of the entry deadline. Applications received outside of the submission period will not be reviewed. You will receive an e-mail confirming receipt of your submission within two business days.
3) If you are selected as a finalist:
- Prepare your prototype/model for shipping
- Ship it to the address listed in your notification email
- Get ready for your interview with our space scientist judges
- The items sent to our organization automatically become the property of our organization and will not be returned. The invention is not protected by the disclosure to us.
- If protection for the invention is desired, please refer to the appropriate ‘Patent and Trademark’ agency for your geographical area.
- The Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide is not responsible for any application, however submitted, which is not received.
- January 7, 2013 – Entry submission period opens
- February 8, 2013 – Entry submission period ends
- March 4, 2013 – Announcement of finalists
- March 18-22, 2013 – Web-based interviews of finalists by contest judges
- March 27, 2013 – Submission of invention presentation board and prototype deadline (for finalists only)
- April 3, 2013 – Winner(s) announcement
Winner(s)’ conversation with the astronauts will take place in the second half of April 2013 at an agreed upon date and time.
- Creativity (level of imagination)
- Originality (level of novelty)
- Complexity (level of depth and level of details)
- Innovation (breakthrough or improvement)
- Statement of problem (comprehension of the problem and clarity of expression)
- Statement of solution (adequacy of the solution and clarity of expression)
- Quality of photos or video (level of depiction of the invention and esthetic quality)
- Impact (significance of the solution)
- Practicality (applicability and feasibility)
- Contribution (scope of the solution; resolves one or more problems)
Note: Our space science judges will check the invention against publications and patent lists.
Meet some of our distinguished judges listed in alphabetical order.
Ms. Aitchison began her career at NASA as a co-operative education student while still an undergraduate student. Throughout her career, Ms. Aitchison has had the opportunity to work on several different space suit development and operational programs in a variety of roles including Pressure Garment Lunar Configuration Lead for the Constellation Program, Deputy Subsystem Manager for the Space Shuttle/ISS EMU Space Suit Assembly, and Project Lead for the High Performance EVA Glove development task. In these roles, Ms. Aitchison has gained hands-on experience in the design, fabrication, and development of pressurized softgoods, as well as the planning and execution of manned space suit tests in a variety of gravity conditions as both an engineer and test subject. Ms. Aitchison’s most memorable work experiences are space suit testing in Cinder Lake, AZ during Desert RATS and installing the space suits inside Space Shuttle Discovery on the launchpad for STS-131.
Ms. Aitchison earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 2006 and a Master of Science in Human Factors Engineering from Wright State University in 2011.
Alaina Brinley was born in South Bend, Indiana and attended James Whitcomb Riley High School where she received an Indiana Academic Honors Diploma in 2003. As an undergraduate student, Dr. Brinley worked in several fields including conservation biology, paleontology, spaceflight botany, and astrobiology. Additionally, she studied abroad in Nairobi, Kenya during undergraduate school.
She completed the Space and Life Science Training program at NASA Kennedy Space Center as well as a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. Her work in spaceflight research as an undergraduate led her to continue to pursue research in a spaceflight field for graduate school. Dr. Brinley received a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Kalamazoo College and a doctorate in preventative medicine and public health from the University of Texas Medical Branch. Her research was completed in the Microbiology Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center where she studied the effect of a modeled spaceflight environment on Epstein-Barr virus reactivation. Dr. Brinley continues to be interested in spaceflight and infectious disease research.
In her spare time, Dr. Brinley is a private pilot, enjoys reading, running, swimming, and acting, and works with the Johnson Space Center chapter of Engineers without Borders.
Karen Burnham is an electrical engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
At NASA she has worked on pyrotechnics systems as well as lightning and other electromagnetic interference issues. Prior to starting work at NASA, she worked for 6 years on radar detection for Northrop Grumman.
Ms. Burnham received a Bachelor of Science in physics from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Houston.
Sabrina Gilmore is a NASA engineer and trains astronauts on spacesuits and spacewalks to service the International Space Station.
The training environment utilizes virtual reality laboratories, underwater simulations, and microgravity flights. She enjoys combining her mechanical and biomedical engineering education towards the goal of successful human spaceflight. Sabrina’s professional development includes completing a national leadership program called NASA FIRST (Foundations of Influence, Relationships, Success, and Teamwork).
Outside of NASA, she leads expeditions to remote areas of the Himalayan Mountains to conduct medical care and education outreach in areas without sophisticated facilities. She is the former founder and director of DUNK IT! which uses sports culture to foster education on humanitarian crises. She also serves on the young professionals advisory board for the Houston World Affairs Council.
Ms. Gilmore holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech and Emory University.
Janice V. Makinen is a biomedical engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering degree from Case Western Reserve University in 2010.
Janice has worked on many projects including the development of smoke detectors for ISS and Shuttle, instrumentation of lunar habitats, development of Orion human factors requirements and design for suited astronauts, and investigation of prototype spacesuits.
Janice is now a project engineer for the Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator—a heat rejection device that will be incorporated into the next generation Portable Life Support System (PLSS).
Patel Nagaraja, Mamta
Mamta Patel Nagaraja currently works at NASA Headquarters managing the Agency-wide Women@NASA project.
Previously, Dr. Nagaraja worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, training astronauts who flew aboard both the U.S. Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). Dr. Nagaraja also worked in NASA’s Mission Control Center as a certified flight controller for the communications system of the ISS. Additionally, Dr. Nagaraja is an adjunct professor at Catholic University of America, teaching the Introduction to Flight Dynamics course.
In her personal time, she is also a role model with FabFems, a young professional of the World Affairs Council, and a member of Women in Aerospace. She performs speaking engagements through NASA’s Speaker’s Bureau and volunteers regularly for the DC metro community.
Dr. Nagaraja recently completed an around-the-world trip, performing outreach in developing countries and hiking to the base camp of Mt. Everest. She is an avid health-enthusiast, running marathons and half marathons across the world, and she co-founded Team Asha Atlanta, a marathon training group that raises money for education programs in India.
Dr. Nagaraja holds a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University, a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech and Emory University. She is on Twitter @beyondthecurls.