Organizers of the Summer Science Camp held at New Jersey Institute of Technology examined more than 700 applications of the Spacesuit Design Challenge this year, handing out full scholarships to only 55 lucky students who participated.
Students from New Jersey and New York took part in the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp spacesuit challenge last July 20, 2011, the culminating activity of the two-week program held at NJIT for five years. The activity served as an epilogue to the space shuttle Atlantis and prelude to the solar powered spacecraft Juno scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL, on August 5.
Seated around tables, the brightest and the most innovative students hurdled through the challenge using Styrofoam, wax paper and cardboard plates to construct 14-layer swatches of spacesuits.
Retired astronaut Bernard Harris, the first African-American to complete a spacewalk and the administrator of a camp that brought the students to NJIT tested the strength and durability of the swatches by giving a punch on each. The winning team used materials interwoven with cardboard that acted like a spring.
The winning team were composed of Karan Mahesh, Bryan Williams, Nyla Ruiz, Kaleigh Howard, and Argit Sood.
“For me, education was the key for my family to get out of poverty, and education is so key to everything in life. I want to give these kids the same ability to do what I did,” Harris said during the awarding. (Abram Brown, Star Ledger)