Winners of the Future Engineers’ Star Trek™ Replicator Challenge Visit MakerBot
Back in April, we announced MakerBot’s participation in the Star Trek Replicator Challenge, a 3D printing challenge developed by Future Engineers that was calling upon the STEM skills of K-12 students. Cosponsored by NASA, Star Trek, and the ASME Foundation, the challenge required students to design a 3D model to assist astronauts with growing, storing, eating, or disposing of food.
Among the 400 entries that spanned over 30 states, the two winning designs, the Melanized Fungarium and Astro Martian Mini Farm, were picked from expert judges and could one day end up in space. The two students that designed them received a trip to New York City to tour the Space Shuttle Enterprise at the Intrepid Space and Air Museum. They finished their day with a VIP tour of MakerBot headquarters and met with senior engineers and key leadership.
The two students — Kyle Corrette, a student from Delta Vista High School in Phoenix, AZ and Sreyash Sola from East Ridge Middle School in Ashburn, VA —had their submissions judged based on several factors; the 3D design itself, the student’s ability to communicate the idea, and the overall creativity of the innovation.
Along with Kyle and Sreyash’s grand prize trip to New York City, the other three finalists from each age group won a MakerBot Replicator Mini for their school and a Pancakebot for their family. The ten semifinalists from each group received a 3D Printing in Space Prize Pack.
Kyle’s Melanized Fungarium provides an optimized structure for fungus to grow in, harnessing the ionizing radiation (X-rays, gamma rays) common in space. The fungarium model could theoretically grow the renewable edible fungus to provide a long-term food source for astronauts. Designed with a low-gravity environment in mind, it houses an internal irrigation system to pump water through chambers where the fungi will grow.
Sreyash Sola’s Astro Mini Farm was picked for its unique and compact design in handling low-light and thin-atmosphere agriculture. His design utilizes a convex lens to concentrate and direct the sparse sunlight available during the trip to Mars and on the surface of the red planet. A simple pump and valve regulate the air pressure inside the mini farm.
At MakerBot, Director of Public Relations Johan-Till Broer led Kyle, Sreyash and Deanne through the office to meet with teams in each department, which was followed by an inspiring sit-down discussion with CEO Jonathan Jaglom and Mechanical Engineer Michael Pappas.
Kyle, overjoyed to be selected as a winner and chat with the team at MakerBot, said, “Having the opportunity to meet and be taken seriously by so many highly accomplished individuals gave me a new enthusiasm for the engineering field,” He continued, “This challenge has inspired me to learn new skills like CAD, and has also opened up future opportunities through the gift of a 3D printer to my school.”
The challenge was a huge success in nurturing students towards a future in STEM fields, according to Future Engineers Founder Deanne Bell. “Advances in 3D printing technology are the collective result of pioneers across all disciplines — from Star Trek script writers to astronauts to engineers — who have taught us that science fiction is just a step away from science fact.” Bell elaborated, “The future is bright with students like Kyle and Sreyash leading the way as our next generation of pioneers. I can’t wait to see what they innovate next.”