Friday, May 27, 2016

Three Great Things!

 A small part of tUR got together for dinner after finals to celebrate the project and plan for the future.

Friends and family were invited, including the dynamic duo who designed our award winning t-shirts. OK maybe our t-shirts didn't win an award but...


The team worked so hard on their Critical Design Review, Launch Readiness Review, technical report, scientific poster, and of course, the Post Launch Assessment Review. It was wonderful news to hear that we won an award for our documentation and I am so proud of them. They earned every bit of that award! All of the meetings, Google Hangouts, and group Google Doc editing has paid off! You haven't lived until you've had so many people editing a Google Doc that the thing starts bugging out. 

Plus, I think that whenever everyone on the team begins to write a report or start a new powerpoint, they will think about these projects (and swear quietly under their breath.)

Here are the overall results:

Best Team Work: Craven Community College

Best Payload: Edgecombe Community College

Best Picture/Video: Southwestern Community College

Best Documentation: Durham Technical Community College

Highest Altitude: Pitt Community College

A special shout out goes to the Cinderella of the teams, RCCC. Based on their telemetry they were confident that they lost their payload in the ocean. With the wind the way it was that day it was actually a possibility that if they hit the right altitude it could blow the balloon from Hickory all the way into the drink. About ten days ago the RCCC team was contacted by fisherman off of the Outer Banks who had recovered their payload! I'm not sure it will be in very good shape after almost two months in saltwater but I know that they will get some satisfaction that it was found.

I feel like we also won best team work. (Not sour grapes...just proud of my team.) Unless Craven Community College is braiding each others hair and singing each other to sleep I don't think they can beat the team work of my ragtag team. Have any of them hand fed a team member cheesy popcorn? 

In my heart I will always feel like we won Best Picture in the Burger King parking lot when Dan saw this photo and hooted so loud that we all heard ringing in our ears.

...But you can tell that Southwestern spent eons perfecting their winning video and it deserved to win.

Congratulations to all of the teams who completed the competition. Everyone put a ton of work into the project and you could tell on launch day that the work paid off. It was one of the toughest challenges I've ever faced. (And I've completed 6 triathlons, a half marathon, five books, and a MS thesis. Nice work, Doug.) 

The jury is out on whether or not the competition will take place again next year. Hopefully some version of the challenge will continue. I have never seen a project that has had this much of a lasting impact on students. Which brings me to the next GREAT thing.


Student Team Lead, Jimmy Acevedo, has accepted an internship with NASA for the summer. He will be working with the PIPER Balloon project.  We are thrilled, excited, and not at all surprised. Here's a photo of Jimmy getting the news. (We learned of these two things within about 20 minutes of each other so it was a #bigday.)

Goddard was his first choice location and this project was, in my opinion, the most interesting of all the projects he applied for back in the Spring. (I know he's disappointed to miss the urinalysis internship but he'll have to make do with Big Bang cosmology.) I'm excited to tell the Big Bang skeptics in my geology course that my best friend helped prove the theory. 

Having Jimmy get this internship was like winning Best Documentation twice. I watched him spend countless hours on his application essays and I am so pleased that his enthusiasm came through and they picked the right viking for the job.


Alright Space Fans, stay tuned because we have decided to squeeze in a summer launch before Jimmy leaves town. This is going to take some work but we are basically hoping to fly the mission we wanted to fly before with a working GoPro and a polimaster. Our original hull and other gear are intact. The TURDS, TURTLES, and Space Dongles are strewn haphazardly around the geology lab. 
With a little bit of polish we'll be ready to fly again in a jiffy. Sadly, no time for drop testing...maybe I can convince them to spend an hour on top of a parking garage anyway. 

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