Tag Archives: Students

Get a Glimpse of Crowdfunding’s Power to Fund Public Access to the ARKYD Deep Space Telescope for Students, Scientists and Astronomers

30 May

Help Planetary Resources Fund an Immersive Educational Curriculum that Will Allow for More Access  by Students, Classrooms, Museums and Science Learning Centers

By Robert Hoskins

 Planetary Resources, Inc. launched a campaign to produce the world’s first crowdfunded deep space telescope to provide unprecedented public access to space and place the most advanced exploration technology into the hands of students, scientists and a new generation of citizen star gazers and astronomers.

Help Planetary Resources Fund  an Immersive Educational Curriculum that Will Allow for More Access for Students, Classrooms, Museums and Science Learning Centers

Help Planetary Resources Fund an Immersive Educational Curriculum that Will Allow for More Access for Students, Classrooms, Museums and Science Learning Centers

Planetary Resources’ technical team, who worked on every recent U.S. Mars lander and rover, will provide direct access to an ARKYD space telescope making space widely available for inspiration, exploration and research. “I’ve operated rovers and landers on Mars, and now I can share that incredible experience with everyone. People of any age and background will be able to point the telescope outward to investigate our Solar System, deep space, or join us in our study of near-Earth asteroids,” said Chris Lewicki , President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Using Kickstarter, a platform for supporting innovative projects, Planetary Resources has set a campaign goal of US$1 million. The company will use the proceeds to launch the telescope, fund the creation of the public interface, cover the fulfillment costs for all of the products and services listed in the pledge levels, and fund the immersive educational curriculum for students everywhere. Any proceeds raised beyond the goal will allow for more access to classrooms, museums and science centers, and additional use by individual Kickstarter backers.

Peter H. Diamandis , M.D., Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc. said, “When we launched Planetary Resources last year, we had an extraordinary response from the general public. Tens of thousands of people contacted us and wanted to be involved. We are using this Kickstarter campaign as a mechanism to engage the community in a productive way.” Diamandis added, “In the last 50 years, space exploration has been led by national governmental agencies with their own set of priorities; and now we’re changing the nature of exploration. We’re developing the most advanced space technology ever made available to the public.  Let’s explore the cosmos together!”

Eric Anderson , Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc. said, “Since the public announcement of Planetary Resources last April, the company has doubled in size, brought on key strategic partners, was awarded numerous contracts and is on track for its primary mission of identifying and prospecting asteroids within this decade.”

Pledge Level Highlights:

  • Your Face in Space – the #SpaceSelfie  For US$25, the team will upload an image of the campaign backer’s choice to display on the ARKYD, snap a photo of it with the Earth in the background, and transmit it to the backer. This space ‘photo booth’ allows anyone to take (or gift) a unique Space Selfie image that connects a personal moment with the cosmos in an unprecedented, yet tangible way.
  • Explore the Cosmos: Higher pledge levels provide students, astronomers and researchers with access to the ARKYD main optic for detailed observations of the cosmos, galaxies, asteroids and our Solar System.
  • Support Education Worldwide: At the highest levels, pledgers can offer the K-12 school, science center, university, or any interested group of their choice access to the ARKYD for use in interactive educational programming to strengthen STEM education worldwide. The full pledge list and ARKYD technical specifications can be found here. 

Sara Seager , Ph.D., Professor of Physics and Planetary Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, “The ARKYD crowdfunding campaign is extraordinary. Not only does the telescope have the technical capability to increase our understanding of space, but it can be placed in orbit for an incredibly low cost. That is an economic breakthrough that will accelerate space-based research now and in the future.”

Planetary Resources is joined in this adventure by a large group of campaign supporters including the Museum of Flight, Griffith Observatory, Liberty Science Center, Museum of Science and Industry, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Virgin Galactic and The Planetary Society. Bill Nye the Science Guy, CEO of The Planetary Society noted, “It’s a fantastic convergence of spacecraft technology and crowdfunding. Students everywhere can get involved – around the world and now above the world.”

The campaign will run for 33 days and end on June 30, 2013.  Detailed information regarding the campaign is available on the Kickstarter website.

Planetary Resources, Inc. was founded in 2009 by Eric Anderson and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis .  Our vision is to establish a new paradigm for resource utilization that will bring the Solar System within humanity’s economic sphere of influence.  The company will conduct low-cost robotic space exploration beginning with the Arkyd Series of space missions that will identify the most commercially viable near-Earth asteroids. These initial missions will assist the company in enabling the retrieval of raw materials from these select asteroids, including water, precious metals and more.

Planetary Resources is financed by industry-launching visionaries, three of whom include Google’s CEO Larry Page & Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt ; and Ross Perot, Jr. , Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group; who are committed to expanding the world’s resource base so humanity can continue to grow and prosper for centuries to come.  Some of the company’s partners and advisors include the Bechtel Corporation; film maker and explorer James Cameron ; former Chief of Staff, United States Air Force General T. Michael Moseley (Ret.); and Sara Seager , Ph.D., Professor of Planetary Science and Physics at MIT. Members of the company’s technical staff have worked on every recent U.S. Mars lander including Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity, and include other key non-aerospace and safety-critical disciplines.

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AlumniFunder Launches Crowdfunding Platform Where Alumni Can Back Student Entrepreneurs

28 Mar

By Rip Empson

TechCrunch – AlumniFunder launched in beta this week with a simple mission: Help create a deeper relationship between current students and alumni, while supporting collegiate entrepreneurship and creativity. To do that, AlumniFunder wants to give alumni a platform by which they can invest in innovative projects created by students at their alma mater. Whether it be for a new science lab, natural language processing research or a documentary film, the startup also wants to help give students access to the capital they need to get their ideas off the ground.

AlumniFunder Launches A Crowdfunding Platform Where Alumni Can Back Student Entrepreneurs

AlumniFunder Launches A Crowdfunding Platform Where Alumni Can Back Student Entrepreneurs

Riding the crowdfunding wave, the startup is essentially putting a spin on (or splitting the difference between) Kickstarter and education-focused, P2P funding platforms like SoFi and CommonBond. Not unlike these platforms, AlumniFunder has no affiliation with a specific college, instead providing a marketplace for those with ideas that need funding to connect with those looking to open their wallets to a worthy cause.

In other words, the platform works like this: Those registering for AlumniFunder are split into “Doers” (those looking to create a project) and “Alumni” (those looking to browse and fund projects). Doers are required to register with a “.edu” email address to set them up as part of a particular collegiate and alumni network, and then, like Kickstarter, their projects are posted to that network for a specified duration — usually between 30 and 60 days.

If the team or student hits their funding target, the money is then transferred via Stripe to the team; if not, no credit cards are charged. AlumniFunder provides a layer of oversight during the process to make sure the projects meet a minimum level of decency and appropriateness, while providing students with tools from Prezi and Vimeo, for example, to help them build and share their presentations with alumni.

The core value behind AlumniFunder, co-founder S. Ryan Meyer tells us, is to create a more direct and transparent channel for alumni to connect with students, in turn supporting alumni engagement in on-campus programs and entrepreneurial initiatives. Rather than crowdfunding being the focus of the platform, Meyer sees it as a technological tool for pooling resources — not a panacea for every capital-raising scenario and every hobby project out there.

Meyer started AlumniFunder last July as an “elaborate work-around,” he says after experiencing problems raising money for “the technology spinoff” of his brick-and-mortar, children’s brain-training company, Minds-in-Motion. Looking into crowdfunding as an alternative and, after considering using Crowdtilt’s white-label product, Meyer and team decided to create their own solution.

Meyer has raised $125,000 thus far, mostly from friends in his alumni network, he says, “crowdfunding it the old-fashioned way” through phone calls and in-person meetings. Crazy, I know. The team has since grown to five, including CTO and co-founder Brandon Goldman, who was the 13th employee at Box and is building the site in Node.js.

As for pricing, at launch, the site is free to all users, save for the requisite credit card processing fees. Going forward, AlumniFunder plans to launch an equity investing platform (set to launch at some point this summer), which will also be free-to-use. The team is currently raising a fund (at an undisclosed amount) that it will likely use to co-invest one-third with the accredited investor crowd in equity-based campaigns, “using crowd-vetting as a way to deploy capital to early-stage investments,” Meyer says.

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