NASA asks high schoolers to create hardware for space

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - From NASA's Stennis Space Center

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS - NASA is teaming up with students at 17 high schools in four states to design and develop hardware and software models and products for use in America's space program.

Students at selected schools will work with NASA engineers on eight projects identified by the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) initiative. Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and John C. Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi are involved in the program.

"HUNCH is hands-on and involves work on real products with engineers who are leaders in their fields," said Cheryl Guilbeau, elementary and secondary projects coordinator for the Stennis Education Office. "It really is an invaluable experience for students."

Twenty-five high school teams submitted proposals based on NASA guidelines. Seven of the selected teams will participate in HUNCH for the first time.

NASA personnel will visit each school by early December to deliver task packages and discuss assignments. Student teams then will work with NASA engineers through March on assigned projects. Teams will have an opportunity in April to display and present their projects to NASA personnel.

HUNCH projects for this year include work on:

  • Hardware mockups of equipment used in the International Space Station
  • Cryogenic fluid management with multipurpose hydrogen test beds
  • Heavy-lift space vehicle subsystems
  • An Integrated System Health Management concept for a rocket engine test stand
  • A portable rocket engine test stand
  • Rocket engine test stand structural monitoring with fiber optic strain gauges
  • A portable hybrid rocket test demonstrator
  • A portable gas-gas rocket test demonstrator

The project was launched at Marshall in 2003 and expanded to include Stennis Space Center last year. In addition to introducing students to a real-world work experience, the goal of the HUNCH initiative is to inspire high school students to pursue careers in science, technology or engineering fields.

HUNCH teams include faculty leads and 10-15 student team members who will work with NASA mentors. The teams also have support from local school systems, industry partners, media representatives and nonprofit organizations.

Schools participating in this year's HUNCH program, by state, are (first-time teams are shown with an asterisk):

Alabama: *Austin High School in Decatur; Huntsville Center for Technology in Huntsville; Bob Jones High School in Madison; Buckhorn High School in New Market; Hewitt-Trussville High School in Trussville; and Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School in Montgomery.

Louisiana: *Beau Chene High School in Arnaudville; * Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport; *Lusher Charter High School in New Orleans; *Parkway High School in Bossier City; and *Northside Engineering Academy in Lafayette.

Mississippi: *Hancock County Vocational Technical School in Kiln; East Central High School in Hurley; Gulfport High School in Gulfport; New Albany High School in New Albany; and Petal High School in Petal.

Tennessee: Lincoln County High School in Fayetteville.