The future of space travel may very well lie in the hands of the American public. As part of its efforts to create the next-generation Z-2 spacesuits, NASA recently organized an online contest where interested parties can cast their votes on three potential Z-2 designs. According to KLTV 7 in Houston, Texas: “The winning prototype will be put through a host of tests in a vacuum chamber, underwater at NASA’s massive training pool, the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL), and at a training site mimicking the surface of Mars.”
However, it can be said that this Z-2 spacesuit contest won’t be the last, considering that NASA also has long-term designs for deep-space travel and terraforming potentially habitable worlds, like Jupiter’s moon Europa. Who knows; in a few years’ time, NASA may organize another contest for the next rocket ship or planet rover design.
In any case, the lessons to be learned from this Z-2 contest had best be applied to NASA’s future contests. Such a task can be easier with the help of sophisticated contest management software that simplifies contest data collection. A competition management platform like Skild, for example, will not only allow NASA to compare the results of their Z-2 contests with other competitions, but also enable other space agencies from around the world to follow in their example.
Interpreting contest data is, after all, one of the biggest tasks any contest organizer faces. Although NASA’s contest only required its participants to vote, other details like contestant demographics, vote frequency, and the average time it takes to cast a vote may be left out by the number crunchers. Contestant demographics, in particular, can give an organization a better idea of its target audience. For example, the Z-2 contest may have actually attracted scores of young sci-fi fans in addition to the aerodynamics engineers and rocket scientists.
More practically, a reliable contest application can streamline the logistical aspect of such a competition. While it is true that the Z-2 contest simply relies on votes, votes are cast in real time, and as such, resources and manpower will have to be allocated to the simple act of counting votes and entries as they come. Contest software that keeps track of everything can empower a handful of people to perform the work undertaken by multiple teams, thus cutting costs.
Granted, an esteemed organization such as NASA is expected to already have its bases covered when it comes to these concerns. Meanwhile, organizations with plans for cool contests down the line would do well to follow suit.
(Source: Online contest will pick NASA’s futuristic new spacesuit design, KLTV, March 26, 2014)