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OU international student founds space exploration advancement, innovation student organization

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An OU flag in front of the Bizzell Memorial Library on July 8.

An OU international student has launched a space exploration organization at OU in partnership with NASA.

Abood Hannoon, an electrical engineering senior student from Palestine, started the OU chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Hannoon said the organization’s mission is to “lead the innovation and advancement of space exploration” at OU.

Hannoon said he decided to found SEDS OU after not finding an organization on campus that fit his passion for advancing space exploration.  

“I started by asking all the people around me and collected a lot of positive feedback,” Hannoon said. “Then, I started reaching out to university executives, student life office leaders, and the (Gallogly College of Engineering), and also received a lot of support and encouragement to move forward.”

Hannoon mentioned a list of people who he has considered the “most influential” in bringing SEDS OU to reality, including Justin Metcalf — Hannoon’s professor and research advisor — for supporting the advancement of the project. 

“(Metcalf) is an incredibly supportive and ambitious person who genuinely cares about students of OU and about pushing the advancement of projects like SEDS OU,” Hannoon said. “The team is very talented (and) capable of making incredible things happen, and we are constantly growing with more talent on board.” 

The SEDS OU leadership team also includes electrical engineering senior and secretary Jonathan Knowles, engineering physics senior and vice president Rachel Penner, electrical engineering senior and treasurer Devin Thompson and OU graduate Ermin Kevric, who helped build the organization. Kevric is planning to found a SEDS chapter at the Hamburg University of Technology in Germany where he is finishing his graduate studies.

According to the SEDS website, it is an international student organization that fosters “the development of future leaders and contributors in the expanding space industry,” which already has 80 chapters at universities nationwide. Founded in 1980, SEDS provides educational and engineering projects across its independent chapters not only in the U.S. but also in Canada, India, Israel, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. 

Hannoon said students can receive numerous professional benefits by participating in SEDS OU. 

“(SEDS OU) will allow students to gain great skills towards their professional careers (and will) help them decide what direction they would like to move forward in after graduation,” Hannoon said. “It will also be offering various professional workshops that will give our members access to industry professionals and access to really valuable skills and resources.”

SEDS OU is offering three different competitions this semester while also exploring more virtual options. Those can vary from designing hardware for actual NASA space missions at the RASC-AL Special Edition, designing satellite constellations at The Quest For Blue or building business models for space companies at the Student Business Pitch Competition.

“All of these exciting projects will foster creativity and critical thinking among students,” Hannoon said. “(They will) create a collaborative environment to work on things that will directly help advance human space exploration.”

As an international student himself, Hannoon said the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which are the U.S. restrictions on the export of defense technologies, have always been a challenge for him when trying to work on space exploration. 

“I came to the conclusion that the situation must be changed,” Hannoon said. “The space industry has not been this exciting in a very long time, and its future is looking brighter every day. We either stand on the sidelines and watch it grow or be on the frontier of making humanity multi-planetary.”

OU Students can register for SEDS OU through ENGAGE and subscribe to its weekly newsletter.

Marien López-Medina is an international student and United World Colleges alumna from Nicaragua. She is majoring in journalism with a minor in public and nonprofit administration and works as a news reporter for The Daily.

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