RETC students work with airplane-grade stainless

Students at the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center located in Washington, Michigan, are learning to fabricate parts that will be used on the International Space Station.

The program entitled, High school students United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) is in its first year and the students at RETC are the currently the only school in Michigan part of the Nationwide program. High schools and middle schools across the US partner with NASA at Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and Langley Research Center. The goal is to have students actually fabricating real-world products for NASA as they apply their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.

NASA send blueprints and the students have three to five days to create the needed parts. Often they are split into teams to create latch handles, pins and aluminum nuts according to the supplied specifications.

Students and teachers report that the steepest learning curve is with trying to work with the airplane-grade stainless steel because the material is unlike anything they have ever worked with before. Specifically, it is incredibly difficult to cut. Because of this, students learn to master fabricating parts in aluminum first before moving on to the trickier stainless steel, which NASA supplies.

Junior Brandon Wright stated about the HUNCH program, “I knew it could test what I know and expand what I know, and it is a cool way of doing it. Now I can put it on a resume that I created parts for NASA.”

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