By NJCCVTS Executive Director Judy Savage
How many New Jersey high school students get to make parts for the International Space Station?
Thanks to a new program in Morris County, 20 high school juniors are doing just that as part of the Engineering Design and Manufacturing (EDAM) program run by the Morris County School of Technology.
The students take their academic courses in the morning at their home high schools and spend their afternoons at the County College of Morris, studying engineering technology, gaining hands-on fabrication and design experience and earning college credits.
EDAM is the first New Jersey high school program to join the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program, an innovative effort by the space agency to promote student interest in science and technology.
Dr. Florence Gold, a New Jersey native who works with schools across the country that are fabricating specialized parts for astronaut training and the space station, returned to her home state this month to meet with the Morris County students.
The HUNCH program is about students producing real-world valued products for NASA, she said. The EDAM students will fabricate a key piece of the storage lockers that house experiments aboard the space station.
“You are now NASA contractors working for the Johnson Space Center,” Dr. Gold told the students and their parents during her presentation at the county college.
EDAM program was launched in September, thanks to a $600,000 grant authorized by Governor Christie and the New Jersey Legislature as part of a five-bill initiative to enhance and expand career and technical education. It is one of seven new programs launched in partnership with schools, colleges and employers this year.
The program is designed for high school juniors and seniors, who will earn 32 college credits for the career and technical education program during the two years that they attend it. Upon graduation, they can complete their engineering technology degree at CCM in one year, or move on to a four-year engineering program at NJIT or elsewhere with advanced standing.