Student Achievement – Tylar Cunzolo
During December of last year, I was given the opportunity to travel to Houston America with a group of girls from around Australia to participate in a space school run by NASA and HASSE (Houston Association for Space and Science Education).
The reason I wanted to go on this trip was not only to learn about the technology and science used by NASA but to also discover possible career paths for myself and to be innovative about my future. While there I met some amazing people and was able to do and create remarkable things as well as use some of the technology used in space. Many aspects of this trip helped me to learn more about myself and what I want for my future.
One of my greatest accomplishments during the two weeks was graduating from Houston Space Centre’s NASA University course, which was a challenging program, that simulated astronaut training and real-world NASA experiences such as robotics, cryogenics, rocketry, Mars Habitat design, and weightlessness in zero gravity environments. Throughout the program my team and I were able to overcome difficult problems and complications, such as building a cost effective and transportable prototype rover to land on Mars and collect information on the geological structure of the planet.
We participated in astronaut training by using scuba diving to simulate zero gravity and complete tasks such as building an airtight chamber underwater while manoeuvring through obstacles. During the training, we also witnessed real astronaut’s training in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, which is the biggest indoor pool in the world and is used by astronauts to prepare for EVA’s (space walks) in a zero gravity environment. By the end of the course I successfully graduated and my team and I placed second in the team competitions.
The best experiences came with the technology we used and the things we were able to create. This included planning and constructing prototypes for a Mars rover using methods and technology employed by NASA and other world leading companies. Another incredible opportunity that arose was the chance to meet and talk with a number of astronauts and engineers. Leroy Chiao, one of the astronauts we met, is now a motivational speaker and he gave us some fantastic advice on following your dreams.
We met Franklin Chang Díaz, ex-astronaut, who is the leading engineer and CEO of the Ad Astra Rocket Company and Roland Nedelkovich, an engineer who helped design and build the International Space Station.
One amazing woman we met was Heather Paul, who is a biomedical engineer; she designs the space suits, environment and conditions the astronauts live in while in space; she also studies psychological and physical effects space has on astronauts, and is the leading engineer in her field. Heather explained to us that being a woman in a field dominated by men is, although sometimes challenging, never a reason to give up and if anything, makes her more determined to succeed. I was extremely inspired after talking to Heather as she emphasised that women can do anything, a saying I commonly hear as the Girls Grammar motto, which she proved with her success and achievements.
To conclude, I am extremely grateful to RGGS and especially my parents for the opportunity I was given to go on this trip. I learnt and gained so much from being able to interact and collaborate with so many like-minded people and use some of the best technology in the world.
If given the chance I would love to go back and experience it again and definitely work for NASA as a future career.
Student Achievement – Tylar Cunzolo FEBRUARY 16, 2017