RAHS team returns from Florida victorious

The RAHS ISSDC team gathers at the John F. Kennedy Space Center before they present their final project.

The International Space Settlement Design Challenge (ISSDC) drew teams from all over the world to gather in Titusville, Florida. An RAHS team collaborated with foreign representatives, leading to their first place win in late July, 2017.

The RAHS team consisted of nine students, including senior Grace Zoppi.

“Last year we were really lucky to be invited to the competition,” said Zoppi. “About two weeks before school ended, the school was contacted by the founder of the competition, Anita Gale, a former NASA engineer. She invited our school to the international finals at Kennedy Space Center, in hopes to spread interest in the competition.”

Zoppi had an excellent learning experience, believing the ISSDC provided her and her teammates with knowledge for working with space and engineering fields in the future.

“We were tasked with designing a settlement on Venus to house 10,000 permanent residents and 1,000 visitors,” said Zoppi. “This gave us a taste of working on a large scale engineering project with a large team, conditions that are common among engineering in the industry.”

Sophomore Jon Wick enjoyed the reality of the challenge and how it was not a common space competition; it actually required engineering.

“We had to do all the math behind it: the stress calculations for the structure, we had to figure out what it was going to cost, how were we going to get the resources there,” said Wick, “so it was actually super realistic and it’s not just some fantasy space station we’re building. We had to figure out all the logistics behind it.”

The competition brought about the collaboration of groups from all over the world. The four main groups were formed by combining separate foreign teams.

“Each team had around sixty students from different schools and countries,” said Zoppi. “We were placed on the Grumbo (Grumman + Boeing) Aerospace Team with other high-schoolers from India, China, Romania, and the United States (Colorado and Texas).”

Junior Evan Grilley thought the competition was a win-win situation, due to making foreign connections with fellow STEM enthusiasts.

“Not only am I interested in space, science, and engineering,” said Grilley, “but there was also the prospect of competing with large teams of people from around the world.”

RAHS representatives brought along Big History and AP U.S. History teacher, Michelle Juarez. She brought the main concept of the competition back to Raisbeck, relating it to their classes which also focused on STEM.

“They [had] to give a presentation to a group of professionals and there is a winner chosen,” said Juarez. “In some ways it really matched well to what we do here at school.”

Junior Cooper LeComp enjoyed the competition because of the collaboration of students from around the world.

“Working with other teams around the world was really great,” said LeComp. “Everyone interacted really well, and everyone, no matter where they lived was able to work together for a common goal.”

Because the RAHS team was working with teams from different countries, communication was crucial.

“We had to work with everyone from around the world in order to create the models for them,” said Wick. “It was kind of hard interacting with each other with the language barrier.”

Despite the challenging language barrier, the students still found working with people of different cultures to be a great experience.

“I really learned that everyone is able to work together, and to not judge people by their country’s politics,” said LeComp.

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