The stars represent a challenge for scientists and engineers. A challenge that's far, far away. Some Siouxland teens took their own journey to India for an international design competition.
Jason Schmitt has been in engineering competitions before, but his latest adventure was a whole new experience.
"All the students, this was our first time, traveling, most of us, out of the country," said Schmitt.
Schmitt of Sergeant Bluff-Luton, was joined teammates Betsy Ehmcke and Merrill Brady of Sioux City East, and Joe Napierala of Alta-Aurelia, and traveled all the way to India.
"This is the first time that anyone from the United States has participated in a regional competition outside of the United States," said Betsy Ehmcke, a senior at Sioux City East High School.
These seniors were hand-picked for space design competition. As the only four Americans taking part, they were split into teams made up of 200 international students.
"We had Thailand, China, India and Pakistan. So, we had all these different languages that had to work together to communicate," said Merrill Brady, a senior at West.
Their challenge? Design a space station suitable for human life on planets like Mercury, or even the moon. Their idea?
"It was basically a wheel that spun around to make artificial gravity, using centripetal force," said Schmitt.
The more detailed the project was, the better.
"Kind of had a stick that extended away for agriculture pods and industry pods," said Schmitt.
Concepts that might be tough for most of us to comprehend, they had just hours to think through and present.
"No sleep that night," said Brady.
"Adrenaline keeps you going, keeps you focused. I mean the real challenge was staying awake after 7:30 the next day," said Napierala.
When it was all said and done, they were pleased with the results.
"Our team didn't win, per se, but they announced the winner and it wasn't us, and Jason and I looked at each other, and we were like we did win," said Ehmcke.
And the knowledge and friendships gained are built to last.
In case you're wondering, the trip to India was 14 hours of flight time each way, with 11 hours worth of layovers.
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