Rowan-Cabarrus chosen for NASA grant competition

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College was one of four colleges selected to participate in the N.C. Space Grant Team Design Challenge and Competition.

“This was a great opportunity for work-based learning and provided a great picture of a real division of NASA for our students. These lucky participants got to learn hands-on the process of creating a real space balloon and simultaneously earned a scholarship to further their education,” said Zackary Hubbard, program chair for the college’s computer technology integration program.

The North Carolina Space Grant Consortium is led by North Carolina State University. As part of NASA’s proposal to increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at community and technical colleges, the N.C. Space Grant was selected as a recipient of the 2014 Space Grant Competitive Opportunity for Partnerships with Community Colleges and Technical Schools.

Each team designed, engineered, tested and launched a high-altitude balloon to the edge of space. Team members were responsible for conducting a specific experiment while their balloon was in-flight that had measurable results. Each balloon was equipped with a camera and GPS, which aided in the recovery of the balloon post-experiment.

“The balloons were launched in April, and the event was open to the public, and those interested in STEM, or those just hoping to see something uniquely cool, came out to celebrate,” said Dr. Van Madray, dean of the college’s engineering and business technologies programs.

The grant not only provided the funding for the N.C. Space Grant Team Design Challenge and Competition, but it also provided a $1,000 scholarship for each Rowan-Cabarrus team member.

The grant establishes the Team Design Challenge and Competition for faculty and students across the state to increase STEM education experiences featuring NASA content. This year, in addition to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Mitchell Community College, Central Piedmont Community College and Catawba Valley Community College were selected to participate.