International NASA Space Apps Challenge 2015

This year the 48 hour hackathon attracted over 13,000 participants in 133 locations – and AUT was, for the third consecutive year, the only host for New Zealand!

Our participation this year very much reflected the competition’s theme of collaboration as we received strong support from the School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, STEM-TEC, the US Embassy and the KiwiSpace Foundation.

We began with a planning session on a Sunday afternoon, two weeks before the Challenge weekend of 11 to 12 April. It was a chance for participants to get more familiar with the challenges and begin forming teams.

This year, over the Challenge weekend, we had an ‘open forum’ format with all teams working in WG, Level 4. It made mentoring easier, responding to requests for particular skill sets and keeping the caffeine and carb levels high.

Nine team presentations on the Monday evening proved we got it right as all delivered polished, entertaining and clever solutions. It was a difficult task for the three judges but in the end University of AucklandTeam Starc Industrieswon the vote with their Midas Project. They chose a challenge where they had to develop a new way for space walking astronauts to communicate with on board computer systems using gestures and voice control. Their app loaded smart phone attached to a glove impressed with its ability to fulfil this brief.

Runners up wereTeam Dowsrconsisting of two AUT engineering students, a tourist from Zurich and two ‘virtual’ participants. They developed a crowd sourcing app to monitor and map clean drinking water sources in Africa.

Winners of our People’s Choice award wereProject 42with their Orion Launch Management System (OLMS). For the first time a few high schools were approached to participate and four members of this team were Year 11 students from Kristin School.

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Professor Sergei Gulyaev

Deputy Director

Tim Natusch