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An update from Day 2 at the International Space Apps Challenge at AUT – crunch time for the teams, as they rush to finish before the deadline.

It was crunch time today at AUT, for the second and final day of the International Space Apps Challenge. Teams have less than 24 hours to complete their project and presentation, ready for judging on Monday morning.

When I arrived onsite around 9am, it was clear that many of the teams worked quite late into the night yesterday. Sleeping bags were left scattered to the side of work areas, whiteboards or sketchpads were filled with doodles - and caffeine in high demand as teams were ramping for the new day.

The final product pitch

For teams working on the more conceptual projects, today was decision day – the moment to narrow their project scope to what was achievable within the remaining time, complete the functional definitions/etc – and to start work on the equally important deliverables: the presentation and any material for judging tomorrow. 

Others had more defined projects – such as Spot the Station - so their challenge was to identify what functionality in their product they could perfect before the deadline, and what had to face the knife. These can be tough decisions when you're doing things as a hackathon – and trying to squeeze every brilliant idea into your app. 

I had a great day spending some time with each of the teams, hearing their work-in-progress pitches and their dilemmas. The 3D printing team had the first parts of their final objects churning out slowly on the printer (See 3D Printing Video if you haven't previously seen one in action!). The staff were popping in and making sure everyone had their presentations underway, and they were considering the judging criteria: 'A 5/5 for product is great, but not awesome if your collaboration is 0/5', highlighted Sergei Gulyaev over dinner. 

I left once again after a hearty Pizza dinner, where undoubtedly the teams will be burning the midnight oil as they rush to finish everything.


As previously mentioned judging occurs on Monday, at 9am. Let's hope hope they get some sleep and are ready to deliver their project with passion and vigour. Judges for the event are:

  • US Ambassador, David Huebner
  • CEO of New Zealand ICT Group, Candace Kinser
  • Microsoft New Zealand Tertiary Education Sector Manager, Matt Bostwick

Recommended judging criteria from NASA is:
(0 = no; 3 = somewhat; 5 = yes)

  • Impact: How much impact (quality and quantity) can this soluation have? Does this solution solve a big problem, or a little problem?
  • Creativity: How creative is the approach? Is the solution new and something that hasn't been attempted before? Is it something that isn't being addressed by the market?
  • Complexity: How much progress did they make during the event? Did they start from scratch or build on an existing solution?
  • Collaboration: Are there multiple members of the team? Did the team work with others (either virtual participants or other locations) to help develop a broader solution?
  • Product: How well does this project fit the needs of the challenge they chose to tackle? How user friendly is the technology? Is it a complete solution, or do they have a long way to go?
  • Sustainability: How good is their plan for next steps? How prepared are they to continue their work beyond the event?
  • Presentation: How well did the team communicate? Are they effective in telling the story of the project and why it is important? How well did they respond to questions from the judges?

This criteria shows how much they really have to do to score well in only 48 hours.

Best of luck to the teams tonight!


I was delighted to find out after my blog post yesterday, that there are others working on the Space Apps Challenge virtually. We don't get a list of all these participants, as they didn't nominate Auckland as their centre – but @linz2 chimed in on Twitter in response to my post yesterday. If you are in NZ working as part of another team or on your own project, please let me know!


I'll post tomorrow after the judging session and share you more details about each of their projects. If I can, I'll try to capture some video of their presentations too.

Don't forget to follow the progress of the other international participants too - at