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For release: 05/13/04
Release #: 04-140

Students from 16 states to participate in annual engineering design challenge at NASA's Marshall Center Friday

What: The fifth annual NASA Earth-to-Orbit Engineering Design Challenge will bring students from across the country to the space agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Friday, May 14.

More than 40 students from 16 states will present designs for a propulsion system similar to a new NASA technology called the Personal Satellite Assistant. It's a basketball-sized, turbine-propelled robot for astronauts on the International Space Station, designed to help monitor and record air quality, temperature, atmospheric pressures and humidity. The educational project confronts students with hands-on challenges based on those NASA engineers face in designing next-generation space vehicles and hardware.

The students used simple, inexpensive materials — including wooden wheels, batteries and magnets — to design their robots and demonstrate the science of electromagnetic propulsion, while learning problem-solving skills applicable to everyday life. During the event, students will describe their successes and pitfalls in the design process to Marshall engineers and education specialists.

Who: Elementary, middle and high school students, in grades 4 through 12, from 16 states are participating in this year's design challenge. Represented states include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin .

When: Friday, May 14, 9 a.m. CDT

Where: Marshall Center, Building 4200 lobby

To attend: News media interested in covering the event should contact the Marshall Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034. Media must report to Gate 9, Rideout Road exit at Interstate 565. Vehicles are subject to security search at the gate. News media will need two photo identifications and proof of car insurance. Visitor parking is available in front of Bldg. 4200 on the southwest side.

For supporting materials for this news release — such as photographs, fact sheets, video and audio files and more — please visit the NASA Marshall Center Newsroom Web site at:

www.msfc.nasa.gov/news

For more information:
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Martin Jensen
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(256) 544-0034

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