Hartford Students Win Big in NASA Competition

Media Center

Students from Hartford’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology won the Rover Challenge Race 2016 Frank Joe Sexton Memorial Pit Crew Award at the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge.
This annual award is given for “ingenuity, resourcefulness, and leadership demonstrated in the exemplary support of their rover challenge team,” and it acknowledged the team’s commitment to working together and finishing the obstacle course despite difficulties.
“What academy students learn goes well beyond the curriculum–project based learning experiences also reinforce the importance of teamwork and determination,” said Andrea Comer, executive director of the CBIA Education and Workforce Partnership.
“Their receipt of this award is a reinforcement of the value of those lessons, which will serve them well on their career paths.”
“The perseverance and teamwork demonstrated by the AEGT Mars Human Exploration Rover Team through repeated trial and error embodies the qualities that UTC Aerospace Systems looks for in high-performing employees,” said Lisa Szewczul, chair of the school’s advisory board, and VP at UTC Aerospace Systems.
“I am so proud of the team for sticking to their core values while working toward a solution for their rover. They are shining examples of the types of employees companies are looking for to tackle challenges in a professional manner.”
“The way they pulled together made them stand out, and the traits that earned them this award are the ones that will serve them well in any challenging situation,” said CBIA senior vice president Brian Flaherty.
“What terrific work.”
The challenge required students to design, construct, and test technologies for mobility devices that can perform in different environments such as those on planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. It also engaged students in the technologies and concepts that will be needed in future exploration missions.
This year’s mission required teams to design and build their vehicles’ wheels from scratch. The AEGT team’s wheels were made of seven layers of laminated sub-flooring, covered with fiberglass and epoxy resin, with an external epoxy gel coat.
The team faced numerous trials and tribulations. At one point, the rover broke down and was carried by two students through last part of the half-mile obstacle course of simulated extraterrestrial terrain of craters, boulders, ridges, inclines, crevasses, and depressions.
“Hard work got the AEGT team to Huntsville, but the true test of teamwork and leadership comes when things don’t go as planned,” said Flaherty.
Team members, six seniors and two juniors, along with their advisors – teachers Erin Smith and Dave Mangus, and Taofeek Orekan from UCONN’s GK-12 program – traveled from Hartford to Huntsville last week for the competition.
The team was sponsored by Hartford Public Schools, UTC Aerospace Systems, VRT Management, BVH Integrated Services, Milone & MacBroom, and UCONN National Science Foundation’s GK-12 program.
As a National Academy Foundation (NAF) school, Hartford Public High School’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology is required to provide students with work-based learning experiences. The CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership works with the school to provide those opportunities. The school is sponsored by United Technologies Corp.

The CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership works with member businesses and other groups statewide to strengthen the talent pipeline and encourage economic growth in order to support the development of a skilled, knowledgeable workforce in Connecticut. For more information, please email or call Meaghan MacDonald (860.244.1957).


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