The annual competition was held March 24-26 and is open to all US students in grades 10-12. The competition simulates working in an aerospace company and this year’s competition targeted the international space community’s actual goal of developing a Mercury-based mining colony. The high-pressure contest required student companies to design a single colony for 11,000 inhabitants in 21 hours.
The design includes transportation vehicles; power sources; water, food, and waste systems; computer and robotics systems; defining construction materials, sources, and in-space construction methods; specifying interior living- and working-space allocations; and developing project costs and schedules. The colony must continuously move around Mercury’s equator to avoid the 8000F day and -2790F night temperature swings.
The teams were required to create a 50-page paper and 35-minute presentation for the 12 NASA and space industry judges. As a result of their performance, Hiett and McNichos were invited to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to compete as part of the United States team with winners from across the world including the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, France, Germany, and China. The international competition will be July 28-31.
McNichols, from Boswell High School studying Aeroscience Engineering at HCTC, is the daughter of Fort Worth residents Brian and Diane McNichols. She was the winning team’s Chief Financial Officer who created the spreadsheets and accounting data correlating the colony’s construction, mining operations, supplies, and food production in Mercury’s hostile environment. Her finance group’s ability to keep the operating costs reasonable and justifiable ensured the team’s engineering solutions would win the contest.
NASA, Aerospace Education Competitions, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the National Space Society sponsor the worldwide competition open to all high schools. The experience requires students to integrate their knowledge and skills in aerospace sciences and engineering, physics, math, chemistry, environmental science, robotics, biology, computer science, writing, speaking, and art.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD is represented at the competition through the HCTC STEM program’s Aeroscience, Robotics, & Engineering department. In each of its three years in the competition, the district has produced a member of the national championship team. Hiett and McNichols are the district’s first of our national team winners to be selected for the international competition. For information about next year’s contest, contact Mr. Rick Griffith, 817 306-1925, firstname.lastname@example.org