Princess Margaret Secondary School team members after learning their team won NASA’s prestigious design competition.

Surrey students win NASA prize

Teens’ team wins first place in gruelling space competition.

Students from Princess Margaret Secondary have become the first Canadian team to win the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

The teens have qualified for the contest for the last three years, but this year they became the first Canadian team to bring home top prize.

The ISSDC Aug. 2-6 brought together high school students from around the world, among them: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, India, Pakistan, United States, Wales and the United Kingdom.

This year, Princess Margaret Secondary students partnered with schools from Florida, Wales and India under the company name Grumbo Aerospace to take first place in this gruelling competition.

The competition takes place at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The 20 schools that qualified for the international finals are formed into four “companies” whose task this year was to design a settlement on Earth’s moon to accommodate more than 10,000 people.

Two primary factors in their design were to develop and increase manufacturing capabilities on the moon, and to develop a tourism industry that would help defray the operating costs of the settlement.

After three intensive days of brainstorming, calculations, arguments, cost analyses and trade studies, the “companies” pitched their 50-page, 35-slide proposals to a panel of nine judges comprised of aerospace engineers and retired astronauts. After a 35-minute presentation, the panel scrutinizes the work with piercing, direct and blunt questions that challenge the science underlying their proposal.

Students not only worked with some of the brightest minds from other countries, but they also had the opportunity to work alongside current NASA aerospace engineers. Princess Margaret students had as a mentor Dr. Jack Bacon, often called the “new Carl Sagan.”

Two Princess Margaret students received specific honours. Alice Ho was appointed president of Grumbo Aerospace and Ramansh Chhabra received one of four Dick Edwards Leadership Awards.

The other team members were Ishmeet Singh, Zoubhair Moosuddee, Harinder Khakh, Gurleen Brar, Mariyam Ali, Ramansh Chhabra, Aaaqil Hassan, Taran Gill and Hassan Sheikh.

Students share their success with team mentor Sumit Rathore of Simon Fraser University and Princess Margaret physics teacher Joe Sihota.

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