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MNTC Programming Team Selected as Finalist for NASA App Challenge

Moore Norman Technology Center's Programming & Software Development program learned on Friday that they were selected as one of 10 teams from across the United States to attend the Culminating Event Experience of the NASA App Development Challenge (ADC). It is scheduled as a virtual, two-day event in February.

MNTC team members are seniors from Norman High School, Norman North High School and Moore High School. They are: 

  • Katrina Ashpaugh, NHS
  • Travis Bode, NNHS
  • Dylan Decoster, MHS
  • Julian Lautzenheiser, NNHS
  • Lauren Smith, MHS
  • Christian Zacher, NNHS

Teams will present their apps to NASA leadership during the event and will have the chance to meet with industry leaders. The NASA review team said MNTC's app has a unique approach to the wayfinding visualization and in the illumination feature. They also appreciated the extra effort for accessibility for those with color blindness when using color data sets within the app. Additionally, NASA's review team said Moore Norman's work with online coding communities for beta testing and community outreach for app improvements was to be applauded.  

The Culminating Event teams selected are: 

  • Academies of Loudoun, Leesburg, VA
  • Bell Creek Academy High School, Riverview, FL
  • Bishop O'Connell High School, Arlington, VA
  • Falcon Cove Middle School, Weston, FL
  • McNeil High School, Austin, TX
  • Middlesex County Academy, Edison, NJ
  • Moon Millers: Millburn High School, Millburn, NJ
  • Moore Norman Technology Center, Norman, OK
  • Team Equinox: Gilman School, Baltimore, MD
  • Whitney High School, Cerritos, CA

The app contest is a coding challenge where NASA presents technical problems to middle and high school students seeking their contributions for future exploration missions. According to NASA STEM, "By responding to the App Development Challenge, students take a part directly in the Artemis Generation endeavors to land American astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, on the Moon by 2024.  

NASA Technical Advisor Dr. Bryan Welch said,

The capabilities and the apps varied across the teams and every team brought a unique aspect to their app that we found to be creative, intuitive and useful. Myself and several of my reviewers found it inspiring for what the next generation can achieve in such a short duration of time.

Click below to watch the Jan. 8 Culminating Event teams announcement made by NASA.

For this particular ADC, students worked to develop an app that visualizes the South Pole region of the Moon. It was developed in collaboration with NASA's Space Communications and Navigation Team, also known as NASA SCAM.

NASA Education Specialist Jamie Semple said, "The SCAM Team needed an app that will visualize the moon's surface for future mission planning and training activities and must also contain a path for exploration and identify communication checkpoint links."

Semple said students from across the U.S. began work on their apps on Sept. 30 and submitted their solution videos online by Nov. 18 and based on their work, one of their apps has the potential to be used by NASA in the future. 

MNTC Programming & Software Development Instructor Rachel Hurt said, "I am always in awe of what my students achieve when they pull together and work to succeed. As our group finished their interview with NASA's leadership team, I knew that our work helping them sharpen their programming and soft skills was paying off.

"These high school seniors took the knowledge of programming they've learned and used it in a real-life scenario to create an app that could possibly be used on a future NASA mission. I am extremely proud of these students, and I am extremely proud to be part of an organization that does so much to promote student success."

App team spokesperson Lauren Smith said, "Our team felt honored and proud to be selected as one of the finalists for the NASA App Challenge. The obstacles we faced being virtual this year granted us some unique opportunities to hone our skills in self-discipline, team communication and working in a virtual environment." 

To see MNTC's Programming Team's initial presentation to NASA click the video below. 

To learn more about the NASA App Development Challenge visit here. For information about MNTC's Programming & Software Development career program for adults and high school juniors and seniors visit here.  

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