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NASA Teams with Students for Space Station Training Equipment
Steve Roy
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256.544.0034)
News release: 05-018

NASA has a "hunch" high school students can help meet a real need in the U.S. space program. In a Feb. 17 ceremony at the Huntsville Center for Technology in Huntsville, Ala., NASA officials signed a Space Act Agreement with two North Alabama high schools to build cargo stowage lockers for International Space Station training here on Earth.

The Space Act Agreement is a partnership between NASA and the schools participating in the High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware project, or HUNCH. More than 120 high school students from the Huntsville Center for Technology and Brewer High School in Somerville, Ala., are developing practical skills by building 30 cargo lockers, using materials provided by NASA.

HUNCH helps provide students with insight into a world they might otherwise never experience. They meet with engineers at NASA'S Marshall Space Flight Center, view current training hardware and build equipment that meets a specific need in NASA's Space Station payload training program. Space Station crews and ground support personnel will use the equipment to practice conducting science experiments that eventually will be performed in space.

"It’s a great opportunity for NASA to join with these high schools in an effort that’s beneficial to all of us," said Teresa Vanhooser, acting director of the Marshall Center’s Engineering Directorate. "They are building the hardware we need to continue our exploration of space. And at the same time it may inspire these young people to choose careers in science and engineering."

Students have been working on the project since last summer and have completed two lockers. They are involved in the total process -- from drawing plans, to machining parts, to final assembly. Students and instructors presented the two finished products to NASA during the signing ceremony.

The HUNCH project was started in November 2003, and is sponsored by the Marshall Center's Engineering Directorate, in conjunction with the Space Station Payloads Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Students from eight Houston-area schools and one in Laurel, Mont., also participate in HUNCH. Two more North Alabama schools -- Scottsboro High and Madison Career Academy -- are scheduled to join the project in coming weeks. An estimated 375 students currently are building various Station training hardware.