Hi all:

At this point, all students that have told us that you’re interested in Orbital have been added as guests into IVLE’s module for Orbital.  Don’t worry if you later decide not to join Orbital, the module registration is largely just to help us form a channel to communicate with all of you.

A quick few things:
– You’ll need to attend the Liftoff 2-day workshop (13 and 14th May).  This is a mandatory requirement, but if you cannot be present due to a conflict, we can grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis.  Please bring up your case to Prof. Lee Wee Sun if you wish to ask for an exception.  Note that if you cannot attend the Liftoff workshop, you cannot ask for mentorship by senior students or industry professionals.
– Please go ahead and start learning Python.  We’ve posted a link to Codecademy and will be posting a video and sample exercises for python, but the best way to learn python is to practice it (through Codecademy or other sites).
– If you find other great sources for learning, please post them on askbot.  This is an important way of helping yourself and others, and peer involvement is a cornerstone of the Orbital programme.

You are required to do the Orbital Programme in teams of twos. If you have already found a partner to work with, great!
If not, you can go to http://orbitalpartner.appspot.com/, log in, and provide details that you’d like to share with potential partners.You can then search for a partner based on details provided by others who are looking for partners. Based on the details, you can email potential partners to continue your discussion.
The app at http://orbitalpartner.appspot.com/ is built on Google App Engine using Python. You can find the source code at https://github.com/WeeSun/Orbital-Partner-Matching.

You are expected to have finalized your groups by the Launch Window hackathon session on the afternoon of the second day of the workshop (Tuesday 14 March), so that you can do the final hackathon together. Some of the sessions in the workshop will require you to work with partners, but you are free to work with anyone and continue to look for partners during the workshop until the hackathon session.

Did you watch the video teaser from Code.org that was posted in Orbital’s blog a few days back?  Well, now you can get started on learning what you need for the Vostok beginners programme by learning Python on your own.

Simply create an account with CodeAcademy and start learning Python.  We think you find Python an elegant and straightforward language for many tasks (including other advanced classes within SoC).  [Disclaimer: NUS SoC has no interest nor is it affiliated with CodeAcademy]

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 2.43.38 AM

CodeAcademy and its ilk (websites for learning hacking by doing) are becoming a leading way to learn programming for the masses (we’re in the mass too :-).  You may find many of the fundamental tracks useful for your Orbital projects (we’re excited about the Web Fundamentals and the Javascript tracks.  Anyone up for API lessons?).

There will be a short briefing about Orbital on Thursday 21st Feb (this Thursday) from 6:10-7:00pm in Seminar Room 1. Please come with your questions, or if you can’t make it in person, attend the Google+ Hangout (named “NUS Orbital” at the same time.)

If you cannot be there physically or virtually, please fill out this form to register your interest and ask other questions: http://goo.gl/hLDVC

A key foundation of Orbital is intense involvement of student groups to help mentor prospective student teams.

Any student group helping to train on students on skills related to the program will be entitled to the workshop incentive scheme as communicated to your groups. If you feel that you can hold a training event that would be allied to the Orbital programme cause, please get in touch with the Orbital staff or nine undergraduate office for details.

Such training events can include using external websites, videos or exercises to train students.

STS-133_Discovery_Lift_Off_Launch_Pad_39A_KSCOrbital will also feature a kickoff event to start the summer semester. The kickoff event – named “Liftoff” – will feature a two-day series of workshops, a programming contest, and a pitch session.

Liftoff will happen during the first week after final exams in Sem 2. This is the week of 13 May.  Currently, we are planning to have Liftoff on that Monday and Tuesday, which will be the 13th and 14th of May.

The first day will feature workshops, run by student groups and industry professionals. The second day will feature a half day of workshops, external speakers, a programming contest, and the final pitching session.

The programming contest, Launch Window, will be a three-hour programming contest with student teams hack-it-out to build and simple application for a given theme.   Launch Window’s theme will be announced during the contest itself.  Teams must use the technology stack that has been taught during the first day of the workshops. The top teams decided by public votes for Launch Window will be the only teams eligible to participate in the Apollo 11 (advanced) scheme with mentors, but have no obligation to take up this role.

Liftoff will end with a project pitching session, Ignition. This pitching section is for both student teams as well as industry and school mentors to pitch their ideas. Both student teams and prospective mentors can give feedback on each other’s pitches; and in the case of Launch Window winners, can use the session to match with prospective mentors for the duration of the orbital program.  Ignition will follow a 1-minute madness format, in which teams will come on stage to present their pitch using at most two slides that they have prepared. Each pitch should last for no more than two minutes.

Note that Ignition is part of the assessment for Orbital, and accounts for 20% of the final S/U grade  The slides and the text of the pitch will need to be uploaded for grading and assessment.

There will be an optional mingling session for students, industry professionals and student mentors to converse about project ideas to close out Liftoff.