Sarah Chong has been selected, along with other students from around the world, to work on a project that could go into space.
Sarah Chong, a mechatronic engineering student at Tecnológico de Monterrey’s State of Mexico campus, will get the chance to follow her dream of working with and learning from NASA experts up close, thanks to the International Air and Space Program (IASP) she has been selected for.
The IASP is a challenging international aerospace program in which Sarah will get the chance to spend a week living like an astronaut in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I’ve been passionate about science and space since I was a kid. After observing humanoid robots in action, I became curious about space exploration robots. It’s my dream to work at NASA. Being able to go to space camp and work with NASA engineers brings me one step closer to my dream,” she says.
Once in Alabama, Sarah and the other 59 students selected from around the world, who are between the ages of 12 and 25, will be divided into teams and must work on a science project.
“We’ll be divided into different teams and we have to develop a project. The team that wins first place gets to send its prototype into space. While we develop it, we’ll do other activities which involve training like astronauts, diving, piloting experience, and assisted flight training,” she shares.
During her stay on the program, Sarah will take part in two workshops, the first of which is rocketry, during which they’ll build and launch a rocket.
The second consists of a robotics workshop to design a rover based on a set of parameters and tasks that it must accomplish.
“During the program, we’re going to build a rover, which are these exploration vehicles that travel across a planet’s surface in order to collect samples. It’s something that’s always appealed to me, to help build one of these rovers at NASA,” Sarah shares.
What’s more, during this program, the students will experience a variety of activities depending on the mission they’re developing.
The following activities stand out among those that students will be able to carry out on the IASP: training like an astronaut on the 1/6th Gravity Chair and the Multi-Axis Trainer; as well as experiencing neutral buoyancy while diving in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer.
She’ll also learn about the International Space Station and the role it plays in the global community.
Finally, she’ll have the full piloting experience, learning about aircraft operations and training for her own assisted flight.
Before the on-site program, all registered students will have access to a series of online courses on aerospace subjects.
🤩 Spacewalks in HD!
— NASA (@NASA) April 27, 2021
Her proposal on the redesign of space exploration tools, which won her honorable mention at Mexico City’s NASA Space Apps Challenge competition, obtained Sarah a place on the program to be held next November 2021.
“My proposal is to improve, redesign, and develop the tool kit, as well as how it attaches to the space suit. By doing so, the impact on space tasks would be useful and significant. The main idea is to facilitate its use on a space suit without causing any risk to astronauts, making it light and practical for collecting samples on the moon’s surface or even on the surface of Mars,” she says.
The eighth-semester mechatronic engineering student has had experience of designing and developing robots since PrepaTec, skills she acquired in the FIRST program at international competitions and in programming robotic arms on site.
Sarah is currently a STEM representative due to her work in inspiring people and disseminating science. What’s more, she’s on the Art and Design team for her campus, which has required her to push her creativity to the limits, so as to complement her logical-mathematical thinking.
“I’m extremely happy to have been selected. Being able to go gives the Tec and Mexico a good name, and it inspires other people to take part in these projects,” she says.