NASA HUNCH Program Offers Real-World, Resume-Building Experience – Posted 6/24/16
In early 2017, 20 Morris County high school students will be able to gaze into the night sky knowing that a NASA project they helped build at County College of Morris (CCM) will be orbiting the earth in the International Space Station.
This select group was accepted into the first class of the Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing (EDAM) program at CCM. EDAM is a share-time program developed by the Morris County Vocational School District in partnership with CCM. As EDAM students this past academic year, the class was able to take part in the High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program for the International Space Station. CCM is the first college to partner with NASA HUNCH.
Over a five-month period in 2016, the CCM EDAM students were tasked with fabricating metal sleeves and nuts for a stowage locker for the space station. When they finished the project, they all signed the door of the locker as an acknowledgment of their handiwork.
Among the students, whose autographed work will soon orbit the planet, are Alex Marchesi, Roxbury High School; Zachary Sheridan, Morris Knolls High School; Daniel Jimenez, Jefferson Township High School; and Andrea Espinosa, Morris Hills High School. Their class spent three months learning how to use metal-working and machining equipment, and then they began manufacturing parts for the stowage lockers. The lockers are important to the mission because they are used to securely store the astronauts’ experiments.
“We worked at the machine lab at CCM five days a week,” Sheridan says. “We went to high school in the morning, and in the afternoon a small minivan picked us up and brought us to the college.”
“There were lathes, milling machines, a band saw and a drill press,” Jimenez notes. “This was the first time I was working on these machines. They were simple to use, but we had to learn how to use them well.”
“Some of us did the coding for the lathes in an adjacent computer lab,” Marchesi says. “It took a while to learn how to code. It was all about safety. You code to ensure that the part doesn’t overheat or hit the spindle and break the cutter during manufacturing, which would be bad for the machine and dangerous for whoever is operating it.”
“Everyone learned how to use the machines, then we were broken out into manufacturing and quality control,” adds Espinosa, one of only two females in the program. My role was to inspect and check the measurements to make sure they were all within tolerance, then document that on a paper that was sent to NASA.”
The EDAM program offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to take classes in engineering, computer science, electronics and other technology applications to earn 32 college credits before high school graduation. Upon completion of the two-year program, students earn a Certificate of Achievement in Mechanical Computer Aided Drafting and Engineering Technology. Students may then enroll in CCM’s Associate in Engineering Technology program for one additional year to earn their associate degree, apply to a four-year college or university, or pursue workforce placement.
For additional information on the EDAM program, call the Morris County Vocational School District at 973-627-4600 ext.277.
Photo: A stowage locker for the International Space Station, signed by high school students who helped manufactured the parts for the case, that soon will be orbiting Earth.