The ASME Foundation and NASA have launched a multi-year initiative for K-12 students in the United States called “Future Engineers”. The program is designed to inspire students to solve real-world space exploration challenges. For the program’s first challenge, students were asked to create 3D models of items that could be useful in space. The top 8 finalists of the first challenge, selected from over 470 submissions, were announced on January 23rd. After finalist interviews, the two winners, one from each category, were chosen on January 30th.
We caught up with Matt Schatzle, ASME Foundation’s Executive Director, to learn more about recent events regarding this exciting initiative in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A session.
Video courtesy of ASME Foundation with technical assistance from NASA
AMazing®: Matt, thank you for your participation. This is an exciting moment with the top 8 finalists of the program’s first challenge recognized. Who are the top 8 finalists and would you share a brief summary of their submissions?
Matt: Students were placed in one of two categories: the junior division represented the younger students aged 5-12, while the teen division comprised students aged 13-19, making this competition a true K-12 event!
From the submissions, it was clear that these kids did their homework! Looking through all the designs on the Submission Gallery section of FutureEngineers.org, the participants definitely took the time and the opportunity to watch the videos to not only learn how to make computer generated 3D models, but also learn about the lives, and needs of astronauts living in space.
Nate S. of Fairfax, VA designed a tool used to prevent water from floating off and damaging equipment on the space station after an experiment. The Water Catcher employs a waffle design to capture individual water droplets that form in zero gravity.
Alex J. of Irvine, TX manufactured a two piece Hand Trash Smasher to help alleviate the need for trash bags on the ISS. It works by twisting the knobs at each end of this hand-held compactor. Hand Trash Smasher
William J. of Littleton, CO repurposed a screwdriver into a product called the PRAS or Plastic Replacement Astronomical Screwdriver that is small, compact and made of two parts that easily snap together. Plastic Replaceable Astronomical Screwdriver
Sydney V. of Bellevue, WA created a Space Planter to facilitate the growth of plants on the ISS while remaining mindful of water conservation. Each planter houses seeds, dirt and two strings at the top from which to syphon water. Sydney was chosen as the junior division winner! Space Planter
Ethan C. of Golden, CO manufactured a tool to help astronauts wash their hair without having to use a steady stream of water. The H2O Comb (H2OC) features individual holes between the teeth that ejects water directly onto the user’s scalp during use. The top of the comb features a water intake valve to use with an ISS water pack straw. H20 Comb
Nathan C. of Green Bay, WI designed a Finger Splint that would be available for astronauts to easily print in case of an emergency involving any injured fingers. It features a locking ring that can travel up and down to tighten the splint making it a one-size fits-all product. Finger Splint
Erik C. of Green Bay WI made a Multi Hex Key Tool that fits on an external sleeve to fit different ends. It is made out of ABS, can easily withstand the stress of cracking and each sleeve fits over the next. Multi Hex Key Tool
Robert H. of Enterprise, AL created a Multi-Purpose Precision Maintenance Tool (MPMT) that contains a number of essential tools in one compact tool. It features different sized drivers and wrenches, a measuring tool with wire gauges and a single edged wire stripper, a clip plus and an ergonomic grip. Robert has been chosen as the winner of the teen division! Multipurpose Precision Maintenance Tool
AMazing®: As we understand over 470 submissions were received. What impresses you most about the response to the challenge?
Matt: I am beyond thrilled at the participation level and excitement surrounding this challenge, considering we only launched Future Engineers last September and this was the first challenge. But I wasn’t completely surprised at the response because the prize packages are outstanding and the contest was fun. The grand prize winner receives a trip to watch their design printed live on the International Space Station, making it one of the first 3D printed designs in space and a true, once in a lifetime opportunity. I know many adults who wish they could have participated!
But what is even more impressive is the range and creativity behind the design submissions. I was blown away! The imagination of these kids is truly amazing. I was also really heartened by the parents and educators that promoted this competition. We’ve heard some great stories; a teacher that made this a school project and every student in her class created a model on their own, and one about the parent who now conducts weekly 3D CAD design challenges with her two girls after one of her daughters participated in this challenge. These are the kinds of responses that you only dare to dream of.
AMazing®: How did the final round of the competition work?
Matt: 8 finalists participated in individual Skype interviews conducted by a NASA astronaut on January 29th and the two winners were announced on January 30th. The winner of the Junior Division, Sydney V., will have a 3D printer donated directly to her school as part of her prize package.
Teen Division winner Robert H. will travel to the NASA Payload Operations Center in Huntsville, Alabama to watch his design printed live on the ISS. The three runner-ups from the Teen Division will be headed to Los Angeles for private VIP tours of Space X and Digital Domain. Additionally, all 20 semifinalists will receive a 3D printed copy of their design, courtesy of Shapeways.
AMazing®: What advice do you have for those that were not selected? What Challenges are on the horizon?
Matt: My advice is to keep perfecting the new skill you just learned because this is only the beginning! Use of CAD software is not just limited to this competition, so I encourage students to continue visiting the website and to keep creating! We also plan on uploading more educational videos so they can continue to learn about engineering and space!
The next 3D Space Challenge will be announced in April 2015 on FutureEngineers.org. Stay tuned!
This concludes our interview. Thank you very much Matt for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn the latest news in this exciting initiative.
About Matt Schatzle:
Matt Schatzle is the Executive Director of the ASME Foundation. He has over 20 years of experience in leading and managing non-profits and foundations. He has been a leader in various organizations from ocean conservation to the USO.
About ASME Foundation:
ASME Foundation serves as the philanthropic branch of ASME, and aids in the creation and funding of engineering educational outreach programs in the areas of K-12 STEM, university students and early career assistance, and global development.The ASME Foundation also supports the engineering community through a robust scholarship program, as well as an honors and awards program that highlights the role and value of the engineering in today’s modern society.
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.
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To sign up for more information on the challenge, visit: http://www.futureengineers.org.
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