Design Students Found CMU Chapter of SEDS


Looking for a new organization to join and love space? Get excited, something new is launching at Carnegie Mellon University!

Master’s Students John Baldridge (MPS ‘21), Matt Geiger (MPS ‘21) and Will Rutter (MPS ‘22) recently founded a CMU chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), an international student organization whose purpose is to promote space exploration and development through educational and engineering projects. They foster the development of future leaders and contributors in the expanding space industry.

SEDS-USA also organizes several annual and rolling projects for members to participate in events and connect with their other chapters. Projects like the SEDS High-Power Rocketry Competition, which lets each chapter shine in high-power rocketry competition and the Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition, which aims to provide students with a real-world experience in entrepreneurship applied to the space industry, show the interdisciplinary opportunities present when looking at the future of space. 

SEDS is already building their roster quickly, especially because there is a common interest in space-related projects at CMU, like the Moon Ark Project and similar student-run clubs such as the Carnegie Mellon Rocket Command and the Tepper STARS club.

Baldridge, a two-time graduate intern at NASA, Geiger, a US Navy veteran with experience in avionics, and Rutter, a private pilot and physicist, saw an obvious need for a CMU chapter of SEDS where they serve as founding President, Vice President and Treasurer respectively. As designers, they were the ideal trio to get this chapter of SEDS started.

"Designers are natural facilitators and connectors,” said Baldridge. “We saw a need on campus and thought we could help by connecting the various space-related groups under SEDS. At the School of Design, we learn about wicked problems and transition design. Transition Design is committed to making a positive change in the world and in order to do that, we need to bring people together from all disciplines and backgrounds. In many ways space exploration and development isn't about abandoning earth, it's about gaining a higher perspective and a deeper appreciation for the gift we have all been given here at home."

“In order to have responsible and thoughtful space exploration and development, it's going to take business, law, policy, engineering, and design to work together, and that's what is so exciting about forming this club at CMU."

SEDS is a chance for students from various background to meet and work together and designers are surely needed.

“Designers have a number of practical skills which can be very useful in these types of projects,” said PhD Researcher Russell Singer, who will serve as the Summer & Fall Vice President of SEDS. “Of course, we have our specific expertise, but designers also tend to gain familiarity in a wide range of fields. On complex interdisciplinary projects the ability to ‘translate’ technical language between experts of different backgrounds, either in discussion or through visualization/diagramming, is a vital skill set for the team.” 

Both Baldridge and Singer have experienced working with teams coming from a variety of subjects such as business, engineering, social sciences, and more. As designers, they are able to connect with others, combine their knowledge, and operate as a team. SEDS offers an opportunity for designers and any student at CMU to explore ideas and interests in space.

“After all, exploration means living and working together in very challenging environments; we want to thrive, not just survive,” added Singer.

SEDS has just started but they are moving fast. Baldridge and Geiger, who will be graduating in May, are working hard to launch the club and prepare it for the fall semester with events for students to join. They hope to bring in industry professionals from NASA, SpaceX, and local organizations like Astrobotic to talk with students and explore exciting topics. With various chapters across the US, there will be chances to connect students with other chapters at peer institutions like MIT, Princeton, Yale, and Georgia Tech. In the future, they would also like to help students secure NASA or space-related internships or employment, and/or work with many of the space-related research happening here at CMU and the surrounding Pittsburgh area.   

Interested? Here’s how you can join!

SEDS is open to any student at Carnegie Mellon University. SEDS is made up of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students from all fields of study. There are currently over 80 students on the upcoming roster that represent first-year, master's, and doctoral students from CFA, CIT, SCS, TPR, DC, MCS, and SEI. Many students have or are currently working on space-related CMU projects like the IRISTepper STARS clubCarnegie Mellon Rocket Command, and the goal is to bring everyone at CMU together with this chapter. 

Students that are interested in joining our new SEDS @ CMU chapter can fill out this form:

Any student, staff, or faculty member interested in helping out or partnering with us can reach out to John Baldridge at

Learn more about SEDS >>

Date Published: 
Sunday, April 4, 2021
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