NASA’s Birthday Gift

A few months ago, Texas Instruments hosted a competition in association with NASA to challenge middle school and high school students to refine an operation or product on the ISS to celebrate NASA’s 20th anniversary. The NASA & TI Codes Contest is straightforward to enter, and encourages teams of up to five students to figure together virtually to submit a written proposal outlining the method or existing product they require to enhance aboard the orbiting laboratory. A panel of judges from TI and NASA will determine which teams go on. As teams advance, they have to start coding and building their proposed design and showcase it in an exceedingly extraordinary video. The general public will vote on their favorite video, and up to five teams will have the chance to go to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston this fall, if travel conditions improve, for a behind-the-scenes tour and to present their designs face-to-face. A student at our school, Mihira Karnik, a sophmore, has entered this contest and today, Mihira will spill some of the details about the contest.

Q: What did you have to do to get into the competition? Was it easy or hard?

A: To get into the contest, there was an application process. We had to submit a short proposal for round one. The judges  would pick teams who were ready to compete. It was a tough competition since we had to build a prototype.

Q: What is the main thing you want to takeaway from the contest after its over? 

A: It was a great experience getting advice from NASA scientists and TI engineers. Collaboration is so powerful and can help accomplish so much. Our team worked remotely. The NASA scientist also explained to us about how she worked with the Canadian Space Agency and scientists from other countries in the ISS. My take home is that research truly has no borders.

Q: How did you find out about the competition? What was your initial reaction to finding out about it?

A: I found out about the competition through New Edge Science Academy. When I fist heard about it, I was super excited to work with my team and brainstorm solutions.

Q: Why did you decide to enter in the competition? Was it the prize? College resume?

A: I wanted to do this competition because it was a really interesting challenge, and I had the opportunity to combine my biology, chemistry, and coding concepts. It was also really interesting to apply Artificial Intelligence to our project and make a workable model for the challenge. In the end of the day, I really enjoy research, and this challenge gave me the chance to come up with a solution for a real problem in space.

Q: Could you give more information about the project itself?

A: Our project aims to customize the health needs for each astronaut on the ISS by using Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and a sustainable food source. Astronauts who live on the ISS for a long time have shown many health complications due to the different environment on space and availability of resources. We built a system that collects medical data of the astronauts and automatically nurtures organic food to cater to each astronaut’s health. This helps prevent any health complications.

Currently, Mihira and her team are in the final round of the competition. The group has worked hard to get where they are now. Though the obstacles were difficult to face and almost impossible to solve, Mihira, and her fellow competitors have managed to face these adversities with perseverance and determination. We wish you luck and remember to strive for the impossible and be extraordinary!