Posted by: Singh Is King | Friday, July 13, 2007

Punjab’s ‘Team Force 2007’ Sets Eyes on NASA’s Space Colony Competition Finals

Fatehgarh Sahib – The year is 2072. Four aerospace companies are locked in intense competition to design a settlement on an extraterrestrial surface. The prize: a NASA contract to build a 10,000-person space colony.

This is the premise of a contest for which 10 students from Punjab, known as Team Force 2007, will travel this month to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to compete in the International Space Settlement Design Competition.

“This competition is [one of] the toughest in the world and the students from [Punjab] have done us proud by winning the Asian [semi-finals]. They are set to win the finals,” said Gurvinder Bakshi, team spokesman and professor at the Regional Institute of Management and Technology – Institute of Management and Computer Technology (RIMT-IMCT) in Mandi Gobindgarh.

More than 100 students, ages 14 to 19, were selected to compete for the team, Bakshi said. Only 10 made it. The students come from Patiala’s Punjabi University, DAV Public School, Guru Nanak Foundation School, Budha Dal Public School and Mandi Gobindgarh’s RIMT-Institute of Engineering and Technology.

“It is a matter of pride that the young students of Punjab will be participating in a competition organized by a pioneering space agency like NASA and will contest for top honors,” said B.S. Bhatia, director of RIMT-IMCT.

The team was honored at the institute. “The motive behind recognizing these young team members is to give a boost to the constructive activities of the student community of Punjab,” Bhatia said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Dozens of entries are submitted each year. Eight finalist teams were selected to compete in a live competition at NASA that will be held from July 20 to July 23. The competition is sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Boeing Corporation.

Team Force 2007 was formed in September by team advisors Sahil Arora of Punjabi University and Dhruv Kalia of Thapar University.

The team was invited to join a videoconference with astronaut Sunita Williams, Kalia said. It was also invited by American Ambassador David Mulford to share its vision of space colonies and to discuss the future of India–US relations.

The team placed first in two phases of the competition. In the first phase, 55 schools competed from all over Asia, including Malaysia, Pakistan and India. Seven schools competed in the second phase, held in Gurgaon. Team Force 2007 won first place and earned entry into the finals at NASA, as winners of the Asia region.

In the third and final phase, the team will face seven international teams: two from Romania, one from Australia, one from South Africa and the rest from the United States. In this phase the team will be given 43 hours to prepare and present their design of a space colony.

According to the competition’s paradigm, the teams will work under conditions that resemble those experienced by members of high-pressure proposal teams in the aerospace industry, with assistance from real working engineers and managers. The competition is an exercise in technical competence, environmental knowledge, space resources knowledge, management skills, teamwork skills, presentation skills and creativity.

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