Tri-County students travel to Houston to present device as part of NASA's HUNCH program

Tri-County students travel to Houston to present device as part of NASA's HUNCH program

Five students in the Engineering Technology Program at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School traveled to Houston on Thursday, April 23, to present a device they designed to NASA officials.

Senior Keith Hoell, of Millis, and juniors Kevin Kohls, of Millis, Carlton Perkins, of Medway, Tyler Thomas, of North Attleborough, and Thomas Vagnini, of Medfield, joined Engineering Instructor Kristen Magas for HUNCH Flight Week at the Johnson Space Center and Ellington Field. This is the third year Tri-County’s team attended the event.

Tri-County has participated in the High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware program for four years. The students apply their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education to fabricating materials and experiments for use on the International Space Station.

Students in the Engineering program spent three years developing their device, which can measure the mass of objects that weigh less than ten pounds in a micro gravity environment. During the 2014-2015 school year, the students upgraded the device’s frame and the technology used to gather results.

While in Houston, they will present their product and test it on a Zero-Gravity Plane at Ellington Field. Students must be 18 or older to fly on the plane. Hoell, who was part of Tri-County’s team in 2014, will have the opportunity to fly for the first time this year.

HUNCH promotes student interest in STEM by allowing them to become professional researchers. While inspiring the next generation of scientists, NASA is also receiving cost-effective hardware.

NASA began HUNCH 12 years ago with schools in Texas, and later expanded to some schools in the Midwest. In 2011, they added a school from the Northeast. NASA enlisted the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to identify the school, and they recommended Tri-County.