A sold-out crowd at UCLA’s IDEAS campus in Playa Vista got a visionary glimpse into the future of space exploration Friday at the first in a series of quarterly events hosted by FuturizeX, a campuswide initiative that is being launched this fall by a partnership between UCLA and XPRIZE.

Left to right: George Whitesides, Jean-Luc Margot and Firouz Naderi

Among those leaders in the field who spoke at “The Future of Humanity in Space” were Jean-Luc Margot, vice chair and professor in the UCLA Department of Earth, planetary and space sciences and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy; Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer and an XPRIZE trustee; Firouz Naderi, director for solar system exploration at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Chris Lewicki, president and chief engineer of Planetary Resources; and George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic.

“FuturizeX was born out of the shared aspirations and values of UCLA and XPRIZE — two organizations at the forefront of developing transformative technologies and addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems,” said Andres Cuervo, director of FuturizeX.

FuturizeX is creating a new platform on the UCLA campus for students and the greater Los Angeles community to explore new breakthroughs and ideas that are transforming medicine, engineering, education and beyond. It’s bringing the XPRIZE model of incentivized competitions to UCLA with the launch of the FuturizeX Student Challenge. UCLA students who want to compete will be asked to identify a major problem facing the world and come up with one new and amazing idea or invention to solve it.

So far, more than 200 students have registered to compete for a grand prize package that includes $4,000, a 3-D printer from 3D Systems and a VIP tour of SpaceX.

“Our goal is to inspire the next generation of innovators and technologies, and to encourage a vibrant campus environment for transformative ideas and those with a pioneering spirit,” said Nancy Katano, executive director of UCLA corporate, foundation and research relations, who has been working on the partnership. “We are certain the next Elon Musk will be a Bruin.”

Learn more about FuturizeX at www.futurizex.ucla.edu.