Three Derry students are heading for Houston this week, where they will compete in final stage of the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) at the NASA Johnson Space Center.
The three classmates, Harry Hutton, Dara Canavan and Emmett McDaid, all students at the Lumen Christi College in Derry City, were selected alongside nine other students from hundreds of competitors during the qualifying rounds in London to go forward in the world stage of the contest.
The space competition takes students to a simulated future year where they are issued a “Request for Proposal" (RFP) in which they are tasked with designing an economically viable space settlement.
The high school physics students originally discovered the competition online before members of their class decided to enter. They were then selected to join a team of 40 students in London for the next stage of the contest.
“We competed against three other teams in London and there were around 200 other students in the competition,” Hutton, 18, told the Irish Voice.
In London the team of 40 students was split into five divisions – structure, automation, human factors, operations and business development, and given 24 hours to come up with a design for a human space orbit settlement.
“We were put in a room and let to our own devices,” Hutton said.
“There were a lot of conflicting personalities and they warned us people can go berserk! We made a 20-minute presentation on the second day in front various scientists and engineers and we were asked some pretty tough questions.”
The group was then declared the winners, and 12 of the 40 were selected to go forward to the global stage of the competition held in NASA Johnson Space Center. Part of the winning 12, the three Derry students have been busy conducting research for the weekend’s completion.
“We know our RFP is going to be about life on Mars,” Hutton revealed. “I have been reading up as much as I can.”
The competition kicks off this weekend and will see the Derry boys and their cohort go head to head against 12 other teams from around the world.
“I have always liked engineering and team work and I cannot t wait to go Texas,” Hutton, who just completed his A-Levels, told the Irish Voice.
Hutton, who hopes to study project design engineering in university, says their physics teacher was delighted by the student’s success.
“She was absolutely chuffed, she never and we never thought that this would happen,” he said.
Competitors have been informed that winners may be offered internships in NASA or other U.S.-based companies.