Algorithm Development Contests: NASA ISS Longeron Shadowing Challenge

Published on August 21, 2018


The Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH) is designed to field competitions or tournaments that generate world-class solutions to problems posed by NASA and other federal agencies. Software developers worldwide compete for prizes, ratings, and community recognition awarded to superior solutions that can be delivered at comparatively low cost. This approach, known as “crowdsourcing,” enables researchers to conduct experiments under optimal design parameters. LISH is commissioned by NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) to investigate these challenges. The mission of the lab is to cover both operation and exploration approaches to crowdsourcing. Researchers use their expertise to run projects from U.S. federal government agencies. Additionally, the lab provides agencies with the flexibility to “order” a solution to a computational or complex data processing challenge, just like they would order laboratory tests or supplies. A joint initiative involving NASA’s CoECI, LISH, ISS, and the ISS Vehicle Integrated Program and Environmental Resources (“VIPER”), the NASA ISS Longeron Shadowing Contest (“Longeron Shadowing Contest”) was a competition to develop an algorithm to position the ISS’ solar arrays so as to maximize power generation and stabilize the space station’s long, thin tethering beams, known as longerons, which are highly sensitive to temperature.


Jin Paik

Jin H. Paik is the Program Director and Senior Researcher at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). In his role, he serves as the lab’s general manager. He works to develop the lab’s strategic vision, as well as to direct project and research activities. He oversees the development of open innovation projects through partnerships with NASA, Harvard Medical School, federal government agencies, academic and research institutions, and industry leaders. He advises organizations on innovation strategies with a focus on starting and scaling open innovation practices. He has worked extensively on programs that focus on data science, development and use of artificial intelligence, technology commercialization, and the future of work. Prior to joining the LISH team, he worked at the Harvard Kennedy School and Mathematica Policy Research. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Rinat Sergeev

Dr. Rinat Sergeev is Senior Data Scientist & Scientific Advisor at the Crowd Innovation Lab/NASA Tournament Lab at Harvard University. Rinat works as a head of data science team, and a lead science and technical expert on exploring and utilizing crowdsourcing approaches in application to the data science and algorithmic challenges, coming from NASA, Business, or Academia. In his role, Rinat provides full guidance and support on the way of the project from learning the area and formulating the problem, to controlling the challenge execution and analysing it’s outcome, working closely with all the parties involved. Rinat received his PhD in Quantum Mechanics in Ioffe Institute, Saint Petersburg. Following his innate curiosity, he pursued challenges in a variety of academic fields, from Semiconductors to Immunology and Epidemiology. His research interests include conceptual analysis, analytical approaches and models in multiple areas. His personal interests include Math puzzles, strategic games and politics.

Ben Kerschberg

Ben Kerschberg founded BKC3 Consulting LLC to research high-value markets and products to help (i) educate target audiences with concise and meaningful content; (ii) develop corporate strategy; and (iii) position companies within their markets in a way that enables measurable ROI.

He has worked with several notable clients including Dell, Xerox, GE Intelligent Platforms, Hitachi, the U.S. Department of Energy, Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences, IEEE, Appirio, TransVoyant, Quickable, and Auction Mobility.

Kerschberg contributes to Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Huffington Post. His work has also appeared in Corporate Counsel; Law Technology News; Texas Lawyer; and Equine Journal; and was featured in The Wall Street Journal (AllThingsD).

Kerschberg graduated from Yale Law School and the University of Virginia. Upon graduating from law school, he clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Karim Lakhani

Karim R. Lakhani is a Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and one of the Principal Investigators of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). He specializes in the management of technological innovation in firms and communities. His research is on distributed innovation systems and the movement of innovative activity to the edges of organizations and into communities. He has extensively studied the emergence of open source software communities and their unique innovation and product development strategies. He has also investigated how critical knowledge from outside of the organization can be accessed through innovation contests. Currently, Professor Lakhani is investigating incentives and behavior in contests and the mechanisms behind scientific team formation through field experiments on the Topcoder platform and the Harvard Medical School.

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