IEEE Standards University ‘Mars Space Colony: A Game of Standardization’ Workshop


Seventeen young professional engineers attending the 2018 Young Professionals in Space conference, Barcelona, Spain, 17th – 21st July 2018 took part in the IEEE Standards University ‘Mars Space Colony: A Game of Standardization’ workshop. The purpose of the Mars Game is to educate engineers about what standards are, and how consensus can be reached in developing a standard, given conflicting individual goals. Participating in the Game also a lot of fun, and exposes attendees to techniques of consensus building that are a useful life skill applicable in group decision contexts.

The two teams eventually reached a consensus on their four standards development tasks, although they took very different routes to get there. One team argued with passion. The other was almost clinical. In neither case was it easy to reach a consensus because the individuals were briefed with roles to play that had conflicting goals. The team that argued with passion eventually discovered a procedural trick (“suspend the rules”) to enable them to make decisions where it was hard to reach the stated 75% approval. The other team methodically debated and eliminated individual options until they reached 75% consensus.

Prizes were awarded from the IEEE Standards University: mugs for all, pennants for individual contribution, and backpacks for the chairs and (in the opinion of the Games Master) the coolest participant.

The game was facilitated by Dr. Adrian Stephens, former chair of IEEE 802.11 and IEEE Standards Association board member.

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