MOODUS, Conn. (WTNH) – The sky is the limit for a high school class in Moodus. They’re partnering with NASA to design real parts that could actually go to space.
News 8’s Samaia Hernandez got an inside look as they prepare for launch.
It’s not common for leaders at NASA to lecture high school kids, but when you’re an engineering student and your task is to design a product for Johnson Space Center, the sky is literally the limit.
“Working for NASA is a pretty big deal,” said Wyatt Martin, a junior.
Nathan Hale-Ray High School is the first in the country to work on NASA’s Express Rack project, designing a highly machined metal bracket that will go into a shelf to hold experiments.
“They’re going to be using these parts at Johnson Space Center to make sure all of these experiments fit because you don’t want to send them up to space and have them not fit,” said Dustin Ricci, Tech Ed teacher at Nathan Hale-Ray High School.
It takes a certain curiosity to land in an engineering elective in the first place.
“I was a kid who played with Legos and built Legos all the time. Now, I’m building with nuts and bolts,” Martin said.
Martin and his colleagues are designing an L bracket from a solid aluminum block. They are starting with drawing software and ultimately removing 90 percent of materials and making specified holes with high accuracy.
“It was a slow process at first, but now we’re all getting the hang of it and now we’re running through it and now we’re almost done. We’re all excited to see the final product,” Martin said.
Aside from future career opportunities, students are also learning how to apply STEM lessons to everyday life.
“With the NASA HUNCH program, it’s a big brag basically. We can go anywhere and say, ‘yeah, we made parts for NASA, just what we learn from the class.’ How can we adapt our problems and how we can fix our problems to get to our final goal and get what we need,” Martin said.
If they meet the near paper-thin specifications on the parts, they’ll get a shot at making flight hardware that will actually go into space.