Passaic County Technical Institute’s (PCTI) students and staff are thrilled to celebrate their new partnership with NASA’s HUNCH (High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware) program, which fosters instructional partnerships between NASA and educational institutions.
A stirring kick-off celebration was held at PCTI on Thursday, February 18, as NASA representatives Florence Gold and John Keck welcomed manufacturing and culinary arts students into the exciting initiative that provides high school students with real-world, hands-on experience with the national space program.
Also joining in the festivities were US Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (whose NJ 11th Congressional District includes part of Passaic County), Passaic County Freeholder Pat Lepore, PCTI Board of Education Commissioner Michael Coscia, business partners, administrators, parents, and students.
The kick-off event underscored the impact of inspiring the next generation of researchers, designers, and space explorers.
Manufacturing technology students were tasked with the challenge of utilizing their skills to lathe a screw sleeve for a stowage locker for the international space station, one of fifty-one parts manufactured directly by students involved in the HUNCH program.
Before the stowage unit is sent into space, the PCTI students will have the opportunity to sign their work, forever immortalizing their contribution to the HUNCH project.
Another segment of the partnership involved PCTI culinary arts students’ participation in the NASA Culinary Challenge, a competition designed to encourage students to create delicious entrees that could withstand reconstitution in space and be enjoyed by hungry astronauts.
Students Carolan Terrero, Jada Sanders, and Sierra Bron spent several months cultivating a vegetarian meal ingeniously designed to meet the strict requirements – including addressing the conditions involving the re-hydration process and microgravity – by embracing creative thinking, research, and skill.
Their result – Red Pepper Puree Risotto – was designed to ensure that the taste and texture would remain the same, whether prepared on earth or in space. The earthly version was judged by several of the attendees and received high marks across the board.
PCTI’s NASA HUNCH kick-off event was a resounding success and showcased the talents and intelligence of the school’s manufacturing technology and culinary arts students.
It is expected that their participation in these two projects will open new doors for more PCTI student collaborations with NASA in the future.