As children, we all had dreams of making it big in the world. While some of us wished to become astronauts, others envisioned their future selves as doctors. But it is one thing to hope and a different ball game to make a wish take wings.
Some kids, however, did dream big (literally, NASA big) and made reality bear fruits of their diligence. Today, we look at seven examples where Indian students stepped beyond their boundaries, both educational and geographical, to step onto the world platform and make India a proud mother.
1. Sai Kiran P who proposed an elevator from the earth to the moon
This 18-year-old Chennai boy has made headlines by grabbing the second position in this year’s grade 12 category of the Nasa Ames Space Settlement Contest. He won the prestigious honour for proposing that an elevator be built from the Earth to the Moon to make human settlement a possibility on the satellite.
Sai Kiran P participated in the annual competition organised by NASA Ames Research Center, San Jose State University, and the National Space Society (NSS). It invited worldwide entries of students up to 12th grade.
A project that took four years to be completed was titled Connecting Moon, Earth and Space and HUMEIU Space Habitats that suggested transportation of humans to the moon so that they can stay there.
2. The student team from College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram that won the annual NASA design competition
Earlier this month, a group of 38 students, along with two of their teachers, won the prestigious Annual NASA Design Competition (ANDC). The fourth and fifth-year students of architecture at College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, bagged the coveted first spot and brought home several trophies.
The team’s feat came after an 18-year long dry spell when they won the competition that required them to present the working of a city in a unique way, all the while spelling out its cultural essence.
3. Team Screwdrivers that won NASA’s global competition
A team of 13 students was awarded the ‘Aloha Team Spirit’ in NASA’s global competition that invited students to construct and design remotely-operated vehicles (ROV) from the ground up.
The team, comprising of engineering students from Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management in Mumbai, went to NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston where they competed against teams from China, Russia, Scotland, USA, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, Egypt, Denmark, Turkey, and Poland.
Keeping to the theme of the competition – ‘From the Gulf of Mexico to Jupiter’s moon Europa: ROVs exploring inner and outer space’ – the Indian students presented an ROV that could space travel to Europa’s deep oceans. The ROV would then recover essential equipment, collect oil samples, carry out coral surveys, among other things.
4. Suvrath Mahadevan who leads a NASA team searching for earth-like planets
Mahadevan is a classic example of taking the baton forward and setting benchmarks for Indian students to follow after him.
Born in Ahmedabad, Mahadevan studied in prestigious institutes such as IIT Mumbai. He went on to pursue his doctoral studies from the US which became a stepping stone for him to bag this prestigious honour by NASA.
Last year, while executing his stint as an assistant professor at Penssylvania State University, Mahadevan was approached by NASA to build an advanced instrument called NEID (NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler spectroscopy).
Mahadevan is currently leading a team of scientists who will search for earth-like planets once the NEID is completed in 2019.
5. A team of students from Amity School, Noida that won NASA’s International Space Settlement Design Competition
This was the first time an Indian team of students had won a competition organised by NASA and were given the opportunity to step into the shoes of aerospace engineers.
In 2015, a team of 12 students from Amity School, Noida won the 20th Annual International Space Settlement Design Competition. The team had flown to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA which saw over 50 participants from across the world.
The students were given the task of designing a space settlement on Mars which could accommodate more than 10,000 humans. Team Amity was the only Asian group to reach the final round after they designed two main colonies and four outlying camps that could house a population of 24,000 humans. The team worked for 48 hours straight.
Well, the effort paid off and how!
6. Two Indian-origin students, who made it to NASA’s final round of space contest
Back in 2015, NASA’s National 3-D Space Container Challenge saw two Indian-American students reach the final round. They may not have won the contest but it’s worth mentioning their participation because reaching the final round is as good as winning it.
Rajan Vivek from Arizona and Prasanna Krishnamoorthy from Delaware were tasked with designing models of containers that could aid astronauts in keeping things in order in space.
While Rajan’s Hydroponic Plant Box container aimed at containing water in a microgravity environment while still seeing plants grow inside, Prasanna’s Collapsible Container could expand and compress, fitting perfectly to the shape of its contents.
7. Chaitanya Vashistha who won NASA’s International Space Settlement Design Competition in 2014
Chaitanya Vashistha became the proud winner of NASA’s 2014-edition of the space settlement design contest that saw close to 600 entries from 18 nations! Vashistha, a pupil of Wadgaonsheri’s St. Arnold Central school, had bagged the first prize.
A huge fan of Stephen Hawking, Vashistha made India proud when he was in 7th grade. After winning the prize, he went on to participate in the Google science fare. There’s literally no stopping this boy!
Such wonderful stories. What a time to be alive!