WASHINGTON - Airplanes shaped like huge darts and rocket ships - that's what the future of supersonic passenger travel may look like, according to a number of high school students.
Teenagers from eight states and 11 foreign countries imagined that future as part of a competition sponsored by NASA. The students were asked to write a well-documented research paper describing what needs to be accomplished to make supersonic flight available to commercial passengers by 2020.
Edric San-Miguel, a junior from Norfolk Technical Center in Norfolk, Va., earned the top score among all the entries. Sidharth Krishnan, a senior from Anglo-Chinese Junior College in Singapore, won top honors in the non-U.S. category.
More than 120 teenagers submitted 60 entries in four categories: U.S. individual, U.S. team, non-U.S. individual and non-U.S. team. A junior and senior from Arcadia High School in Arcadia, Calif., led the American teams. Three ninth-graders from the National High School of Computer Science in Tudor Vianu, Bucharest, Romania won the top prize for non-U.S. teams.
"All the conceptual designs were imaginative and innovative," said Bob Mack, a veteran supersonics researcher at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., who reviewed all the top papers. "The design in the winning paper showed the student had a definite respect and appreciation for technical realities while still being imaginative."
Students could choose from two options in the competition. They could write a research paper to discuss the challenges and solutions of supersonic flight or propose a design for a small supersonic airliner that could enter commercial service in 2020.
A group of NASA engineers reviewed all the entries. The judges based their scores on how well students focused their papers and how well they addressed four basic criteria: informed content, creativity and imagination, organization, and writing.
NASA will award the top scoring papers from the U.S. a cash prize of $1,000 for the individual award winner and $1,500 for the team. Non-U.S. students will receive an engraved trophy, but are not eligible for cash prizes. All participants will receive a NASA certificate. The competition was sponsored by the Fundamental Aeronautics Program of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington.
For a complete list of winners and details of their designs, visit:
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