Candidate Platforms for Director of Chapter Expansion

Basu, Palash

I was born in the beautiful city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1983 of Indian parents. My parents moved back to India shortly after my birth. My parents wanted me to get my school education from India and college education in the US-a best of both worlds. I completed my formal education till the higher secondary level in Calcutta, India. I come from a high school called South Point High School in Calcutta, India which houses the second highest number of students in the world. It is a highly competitive school where only the best succeed and I am proud to say that I have been a big success at South Point, which obviously played a huge part in making me the intense and challenge-seeking student that I am. I have always had an inclination in Mathematics and space studies. Books and movies on science fiction, specially the ones on space sciences are of special interest to me. Thus inferring from my academic tendencies and my space-oriented interests, it became obvious to me that I would have to be an aerospace engineer. Apart from this, I was captain of my high school class for four years. I always saw a growing leader in myself, someone willing to take the initiative and spend the energy to lead the activities of a group of individuals and achieve a goal. It was a moment of great honor and achievement for me when I was awarded the President's scholarship to study aerospace engineering at IIT from the fall of 2002. However, IIT being a small, though intense school was limiting my opportunities for self-development. So, I transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 2004. I have been flooded with opportunities ever since. Most importantly I have become part of Illinois Space Society and its activities. I became aware of open leadership positions at SEDS Executive Board through Illinois Space Society. In that opportunity I found exactly what I was looking for-leadership. Thus I decided to do what I am best at-grab the opportunity.

I have always been an adventurer from the very beginning, willing to carry out experiments in and about everything. I have a knack of solving problems in unconventional ways. The primal ambition to discover unconquered space renders me the motivation to be an avid enthusiast and pursue a career in space. Thus a position at the Executive Board means a win-win situation for me. I get to satiate my hunger for knowledge about space and also exercise my leadership skills.

Goals for 2005:
We as a civilization are at the crossroads of a major space exploration revolution-the personal spaceflight revolution, as triggered by the X-Prize victory of SpaceShipOne. Thus there could not be a more appropriate and exciting time for me to be actively involved in promoting exploration and development of space. To increase the number of SEDS chapters and thereby expanding the SEDS network would be an ideal way to achieve this.

As far my experiences in different parts of the world go, the average public is enthusiastic about space. From the Indian village boy who survives his month on a dollar to a billionaire like Microsoft founder Paul Allen-all of us want to know what is there in space, how is it like up there and where we stand in the vastness of the universe. However there is a lack of knowledge about space among the masses. We, as an organization thus need take it upon ourselves to reach out to as many people as possible about what constitutes space and how it can be explored further. In this aspect, I will have to work closely with the Director of Educational Outreach. While he/she will coordinate efforts to educate people about space, I will organize efforts for the next step, i.e. open SEDS chapters among those that have been educated.

One of my major assignments would be to consolidate and expand the number of SEDS-USA chapters. I wish to convert as many dormant chapters to active chapters as possible. I intend to reach out to the dormant chapters, figure out the issues they are facing and troubleshoot their problems. The dormant chapters are critical to the expansion of SEDS, because we know for sure that they have in the past had a well-coordinated group of space enthusiasts. The next goal would be to increase the number of international chapters. This could be done by contacting the large number international students at different US universities and raise their enthusiasm sufficiently so that they set up SEDS chapters when they go back to their home countries. This could also be done by communicating with students from different countries through contacts and forums. For example, I am going to India coming winter and one of my objectives is to promote SEDS. I have contacted several students in India and they have shown enthusiasm to open a chapter there.

Information kits should be cheap and easily accessible. They will be promptly sent out to potential chapters in the US and abroad after publication. I will help individuals set up SEDS chapter and would initially be the direct link between them and SEDS-USA. I will set up a forum for potential chapters and communicate regularly with them, supplying them with information necessary to be actively involved in SEDS. SEDS-USA would also be advertised well among students through the individual chapters and also through organizations that involved with high school and junior high school students. In general, there would be active recruiting for new chapters under my leadership, both in the US as well as in other countries.

The position of the Director of Chapter Expansion is significant in the SEDS organization and is associated with a lot of responsibilities. The responsibilities are attractive to me and I would make my best endeavors to fulfill them. I dream of seeing SEDS being equivalent in reputation to AIAA one day and I hope there will be significant progress towards that dream under my leadership.