Stellar students shoot for stars

Patrician Brothers’ Blacktown student Pinak Sharma and teammates. Picture: Angelo Velardo

STUDENTS from Patrician Brothers’ College Blacktown have taken their passion for space to new heights after competing at a prestigious space design competition last month.

The teens joined students from nearby western Sydney Catholic schools — Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist at NASA Headquarters in Cape Canaveral, in the US, for the International Space Design Competition.

The 16 students visited the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, testing their engineering and creative thinking skills against students from India, South America and the US in forming a fictional company to take on a space design challenge.

The students formed a team of 60 with five other schools from around the world to design a space settlement over three days.

Australian head coach Chris Hersey, a teacher at the Blacktown college said the competition was chance for the students to "put western Sydney on the world map".

To qualify for this opportunity, the students worked together to build a settlement on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, which would be able to accommodate 450 people.

Their submission was one of the top five from around Australia which saw them compete in the national competitions earlier this year.

"It taught (us) a lot about working with people from around the world and gave us insight into different perspectives from around the world … breaking down cultural barriers," one student said.

"We won’t ever get this opportunity again, so we took the risk to juggle this with our HSC studies,”"another student said.

"The pure passion that we have made this possible."

The talented group of students left Australia on July 18 and kicked off their journey with a visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

From there, students headed to the Kennedy Space Centre before visiting New York City and Florida for lunch with an astronaut, as well as Universal Studios.