Monday, July 18, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 1 Day 2

The students’ day began with a trip to the Simplot/Micron building at Boise State University, where they partook in a video conference with Alan Ladwig from NASA’s headquarters. Alan discussed the importance of space exploration not only to NASA, but also to the technological advancements consumers enjoy every day. Alan showed the students new concept vehicles for future missions. He also discussed the new expectations of the American public concerning space exploration and budget cuts from Congress that would push NASA to look for more economical ways to carry out their missions. Students also were surprised to learn about the newest influence of private sector companies on space travel. When given the opportunity, students gladly asked questions concerning the future of space exploration as well as asking for tips for their missions here at ISAS and for their futures.

The students then traversed across campus to the Boise State Engineering Building in order to listen to Jason Budinoff, an Aerospace Engineer from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He discussed with the students what responsibilities would be expected from the four different teams. These four teams (Red, Gray, Blue, and White) split up the Mars mission into four separate arenas: Mission Integration, Getting There, Living There, and Working There. The students became more lively and inquisitive upon hearing what was going to be required of them throughout the next week.

Jason Budinoff talking with students

The guidelines for their mission were purposefully vague: Go to the Poles (on Mars), Stay for 30 days, and Come back. Jason Budinoff challenged the students to debate the question, “How do we change this vague idea into a full-blown mission?” After discussion, the students split up into teams to debate further the goals of their teams and to develop the mission outline into a detailed mission plan. They then grouped back together, and presented their research to the entire Academy. They also had the opportunity to share their findings with Jason Budinoff where he was able to critique their work.

Landon Browning presenting ideas

After a short break for lunch, the students returned to the Boise State Engineering Buildings to hear from the Boise State Engineering Dean, Dr. Amy Moll. She spoke about Boise State University, and the College of Engineering. The students were encouraged to ask questions about different types of degrees & minors offered at the College of Engineering. She stressed to the students that their ideal college, should be a perfect fit for their education style, and should fit their needs.

Students then split to work in their teams even further in order to meet their deadlines. After working for an hour, the students were then able to listen to a presentation about rockets by Corey Morasch from Micron and another presentation from Boise State University’s own Microgravity University Team. Both presentations helped the students gain a stronger understanding of the limitations of trying to reach space and what is necessary to remain in space. All the students were fascinated by the 12 foot rocket in the corner of the room and the stories from the Microgravity Team from their ride in the Zero G plane, affectionately known as the “Vomit Comet”.

Later in the evening, the students were also visited by Woody Sobey From the Discovery Center of Idaho. He educated the students about what is and is not a robot and how to create an autonomous system. Being such a complicated system, Woody let the students know that they were about to cram a week’s worth of material into about a three hour time slot. The students immediately rolled up their sleeves and dived into working on the robots. Many different students took charge and displayed impressive leadership skills when organizing the robots. They all impressively worked hard to make their robots listen to different programs and follow a rigid set of instructions

Students building their robot

By the end of the long day, the students had already gelled as a functioning mission control. The students even began to express how well the teams were coming together.

"We already work together really well."
-- Erika Isom

With the day winding down, the students began to prepare themselves for the exciting trip to NASA Ames Research Center during day three and four of the ISAS Summer Academy. These blogs will continue to be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook group and page, as well as to Twitter at ISAS_Academy. The students have established themselves as mission control and are now ready for the trip to Ames Research Center.

--Andrew Schrader, Jaime Guevara, LaCinda Villanueva--

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