SEDS Conference Passdown Notebook

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This page is meant to describe the components traditional to the SpaceVision conference, the national conference of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, to assist future conference planners. However, the information should be of use to any student-run conference held on-campus with an attendance of 100-500.


Components of a SEDS Conference

Recommended Process


  • Speaker and donor list
  • Make preliminary schedule (specific times)
  • Assign specific duties to team
    • Fundraising
    • Publicity
    • Facilities
    • Food
    • Banquet
    • Hotels
    • Guest relations
    • Speaker relations
    • Webmaster
    • Publications
  • Set up distinct PayPal or other internet payment account
  • Meet with university conference planners
  • Make sure you have 501c3 procedure in order
  • Publicize
  • Design and set logos/color schemes
  • Create Facebook event

After some significant speakers confirm

  • Make speaker list with bios and topics
  • Post full website
  • Assign point-of-contact for each speaker
  • Start fundraising
    • Waiting until a good speaker list and website are up is good to make it clear that the conference is a significant event
    • It's necessary to get started on fundraising quickly, so you must get a quality speaker line-up quickly


  • Get rooms on campus
  • Check on A/V availability
  • Nail down sponsors
    • Easier to do things when you know what money you have early
  • Seek career fair registrants
  • Arrange hotel deals


  • Advertise
  • Open registration

1 Months out

  • Order bags/volunteer shirts
  • Food planned/priced

Less than a month out

  • Order programs
  • Close early registration

1 Week out

  • Order Food (later is better to get a good registrant count)

Notes from SpaceVision2008

Texas A&M University

  • Get rooms early, as UIUC said
  • When videoing speakers, have tapes layed out and prelabeled to avoid any confusion
  • Make sure that chapters are aware of any rush-hour traffic patterns to avoid issues
  • If not at a major airport with good public transportation, an opening keynote the night before may not be a good way to go. The travel time means that you may have low attendance.
  • Don't forget to publicize the event
  • Some things you just can't be prepared for. We had a fire alarm right as the first speaker began on Saturday. Crisis management is as important an aspect as being prepared.
  • Remember, even if it seems like everything is barely held together by you, the attendees probably won't notice anything beyond it running a little late.
  • Make sure your faculty adviser if easily accessible, especially if the bureaucracy requires their signature for a lot of things. Ours was the department head and was thus very busy, making getting paperwork filled out especially difficult.
  • Ask for advice from speakers and sponsors during the event if there are issues. Many of the groups, particularly those with which we have MOUs, are very supportive of us, and have faced similar issues before; take advantage of it if necessary.
  • The conference manager should not be running the primary room. If an issue comes up, they'll be busy and the room can fall behind schedule.

Notes from SpaceVision2007

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Notes from SpaceVision2006

University of Central Florida

Notes from SpaceVision2005

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • The most important issue to take care of as soon as possible: get your rooms reserved. Reserve extra rooms; it is easier to un-reserve rooms that you don't need than to reserve rooms late.
  • If you want to get companies to participate in a career fair the official way, i.e., through their HR departments, you have to contact them early in the spring. However, I recommend that you utilize your university career services, the SEDS alumni email list, the ISU alumni email list, and the American Astronautical Society. Forget the "official" way.
  • See 2005 SEDS-USA Conference Organizers for our organization page. You can probably take a lot of info from 2005 SEDS-USA Conference Participants and update it.
  • Focus your recruitment efforts on SEDS chapters and universities within driving distance; this will be your biggest participating demographic. Hit the phones.
    • Second: focus on major universities with engineering/science programs, and include a "start a SEDS chapter" package.
    • Third: Find email lists and web sites that will put up your ads for free.

Notes from SpaceVision2004

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


  • Use an email list for your organizing team and for announcements -- this will save records for future organizers.

Things we wish we did...

  • Use the board of advisers to get you things.

SEDS-USA National Conferences

As SEDS International Conference: 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991
As SEDS-USA National Conference: 1992 | 1993
1994 Arizona Roundtable
As SEDS-USA National Conference: 1995 | 1996 | 1997
No conference 1998-2003
As SpaceVision: 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009

This template is under development -- it is not consistent with the names of all SEDS-USA conferences
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