June 16, 2021

Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School Students Selected as Finalists in NASA HUNCH Program

Students collaborate on out-of-this-world issues facing NASA and create viable solutions

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 The Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School District is pleased to announce all six teams that participated in this year's NASA HUNCH Program were selected as semi-finalists. The NASA HUNCH Program asks vocational students to help solve problems facing astronauts. Each year a set of approximately ten issues are presented in September. Students select the issue they would like to work on and form teams. 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, the students worked to provide a preliminary design review in February. After this review, teams refine their ideas and have a critical design review. Critical Design Review typically takes place in New Jersey but was held remotely this year. The finalists are invited to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, to present to NASA and anyone interested. This year the students will be presenting virtually but, Kristen Magas, an Engineering Teacher, hopes this will give them a wider audience of people who typically wouldn't be able to attend the presentation in person. "I wish these kids could have the experience of going to Houston to work with NASA, hopefully being recognized and having a chance to present virtually to anyone at Johnson Space Center will be memorable," says Kristen Magas, Engineering Technology Instructor.

The three teams of finalists include:
Matt Gorton (Seekonk), John Greener (North Attleboro), Rick Hamilton (North Attleboro), Emily Anne Matheson (Medway), Tyler Fiore (North Attleboro), Shriya Sivakumar (Seekonk), Kyle Hughes (North Attleboro) created a No Heat Shield, allowing a package to reenter the atmosphere without burning up safely. In addition, this team was able to work with a local fire department to drop test their prototypes from the top of a fire truck ladder and got licensed as HAM radio operators to test their radio transmitter.

Owen Fedele (Medway), Lucas Celeste (North Attleboro), Nolan Angliss (Franklin) designed a Lunar Food Bite Dispenser to allow astronauts to eat while on long spacewalks with ease. This trio was selected as finalists last year as well.

Anthony Botteri (Medway), Max Rounds (Franklin), James Gingras (Millis), Brian Belanger (Plainville), Tyler McKinnon (Franklin) (with help from Elijah DePaolo (North Attleboro) and Eric Conway (Millis) collaborated on the Lunar Dust Baffle to help keep lunar soil on habitats to protect astronauts from radiation and micrometeorites. This team pulled together their various strengths and made an incredible impact.

The teams presented their projects to NASA in late April. Next steps include one team developing their idea or blending ideas to create a solution. Through the HUNCH Program, Tri-County designed hardware for storage lockers used in space by the Advanced Manufacturing students.

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