Junior Engineering Technology Students Collaborate to Solve Issues on the International Space Station


The Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School District is pleased to announce two of the six teams that participated in this year’s NASA HUNCH Program were selected as semi-finalists. The NASA HUNCH Program allows vocational students to help develop important features and hardware for the International Space Station (ISS). Each year a set of approximately ten issues that could help astronauts live more functionally or aid in the scientific and engineering capabilities on the ISS are presented in September. Students select an issue, form teams, and work together on a solution. All juniors in the Engineering Program participate. (www.hunchdesign.com)

The students in the NASA HUNCH Program work with mentors, college professors, national companies, engineers from NASA, and other organizations to help hone their ideas. In addition, each student is encouraged to include their work with NASA on their resume. The students’ fresh perspective, time, and energy assists the Research and Integration Office out of the Johnson Space Center. This year each student who presented in Houston received a personalized recommendation letter to assist their future endeavors.

Students worked to provide a preliminary design review in February. After this review, teams refine their ideas and have a critical design review which typically takes place in New Jersey. The finalists are invited to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, to present to NASA and anyone interested. This year sixty teams from around the country were invited to Houston to present.

Thomas Ford (Millis), Timothy Harrington (North Attleboro), Joshua Shockley (Wrentham), and Cory George (Seekonk) were finalists with the mockup of a Destiny module built for transport they created. The Destiny module is the primary research laboratory on the ISS. Destiny’s research allows scientists to understand our world better and prepare for future space missions. The students were tasked with researching materials within budgeting constraints and creating a mockup to show how the traveling module would assemble and disassemble for easy transport. The team considered structural elements that would be safe for the public to view, interact with, and fit on a flatbed truck.

Nicholas Aguiar (Seekonk), Zachary Blenkhorn (Medway), Joseph Cady (Plainville), and Aidan Juhl (Millis) worked together to create Magnetic Boots for Space X Human Landing System. These boots would allow the astronauts to walk on the outside of the ship instead of floating, which would enable them to maneuver themselves with their feet and carry items with their hands, similar to how they would work on Earth. “We learned you won’t get anything done on the first try- it won’t be perfect,” commented Nicholas Aguiar of Seekonk when asked about the design process.

The teams traveled to Houston to present their projects to NASA in April. The students agreed that having the opportunity to pitch their idea to NASA and “pick the brains of such a knowledgeable group” were highlights of their trip. The students will now wait to hear from NASA to see if their idea will move forward in the design process.