Student-Led Mini-Program Guidelines

Solicitation Release Date: 16 October 2012
Proposals Due : 17 January 2013

Get the full details in a PDF of solicitation.

The Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) is soliciting proposals for Student-led Mini-Programs to be carried out during the 2013 calendar year. This is an opportunity for Caltech students to organize and carry out a study on a topic that they choose. Funding will be available for workshops, seminar series, visitors, or for support of other activities related to the study program.  Each student-led program will have one or more faculty mentors.

The goal of the Keck Institute is to develop ideas and concepts that have the potential to revolutionize future space missions. It has a further goal of providing opportunities for younger scientists and engineers to become involved in cutting-edge space-related science and engineering.

The Keck Institute has supported more than 40 workshops since its start approximately four years ago.  The Institute’s facilities and support capabilities are also available to Caltech students to allow them to conceive and carry out their own study programs.  Student-led program proposals are solicited in the areas of space engineering, planetary science, astrobiology, remote sensing and earth system science, and astronomy and physics from space. In 2011, the Keck Institute supported two student-led programs:  the Caltech Space Challenge that involved 2 teams of 16 students who competed to design a mission to an asteroid, and High Altitude Ballooning for Space and Atmospheric Observation, which involved student-built experiments launched on high-altitude balloons. In 2012 KISS supported students who built Tools and Algorithms for Sampling in Extreme Terrain, and a space policy panel that will be held in early 2013.

This solicitation is open to both graduate and undergraduate students.  Any undergraduate or graduate student may serve as the lead on a student-led study program. Each study must have a Caltech Campus faculty mentor. It is expected that the Campus faculty mentor will be actively involved in the preparation of the mini-program proposal. Participation of a JPL mentor is also desirable, but not required.

We intend to select and support two Student-led Mini-Programs for the 2013 calendar year, nominally one graduate student-led and one led by undergraduates. Student-led programs can propose for up to $20,000 of support.

While we provide some guidelines in the pdf provided above, the Keck Institute is open to creative proposals for student-led activities in space-related science and engineering, subject to the funding available.  Thus, while we envision that these mini-programs may be “study programs”, we do not mean to be restrictive about the type of activity proposed.  Thus, a student-led program could involve a laboratory project in a relevant subject area.

For questions contact:


The 2011 Caltech Space Challenge was a Student-Led Mini-Program led by Caltech graduate students Prakhar Mehrotra and Jon Mihaly.

Garrett Reisman and Jason Rabinovich

Here, former NASA Shuttle Astronaut Garrett Reisman of SpaceX presents Caltech graduate student Jason Rabinovich with a first-place certificate for the 2011 Caltech Space Challenge.

Image Credit: Bob Paz