Engineering for Change: EDI Fellows 2019 Summer Experience, Day 1

Engineering for Change in Hampton Roads provided students the opportunity to be tourists in their own community, introducing them to the engineering challenges and opportunities of Hampton Roads, shifting their perspective, and deepening their understanding  of the importance and relevance of their Fellows work.

Blog post by Frances Harrington, ’19

This year’s EDI Fellows Trip for the rising sophomores is focused on engineering for change. On Sunday, the EDI Fellows all met up at the Comfort Inn in Portsmouth where we would be staying for the week. We walked around the area in the evening discussing the different design and architectural aspects of the city and what the city planners could have done differently. After the difficult decision was made, we all agreed on a pizza place for dinner. Afterwards, we walked down to the docks and discussed what people and organizations were doing to prevent the water level from rising. We also asked questions such as: Are these decisions environmentally friendly? What areas are being affected? Will the architecture be safe?

           The next day, after an early start, the EDI Fellows took the Norfolk Academy bus to the Langley NASA Facility to meet with Patrick’s mom. When we first arrived, we were shown the solar panels that give power to a large part of NASA. At the beginning of our tour, we learned about different missions NASA has made possible. We were talked to by Charlie Camarada, an astronaut who went to the moon after a failed mission.

Afterwards, we were given multiple supplies such as three coffee filters, rubber bands, straws, note cards, tape, and marshmallows. Using these various tools, we were put to the task to build a model of a spacecraft that was going to be dropped off the balcony to test whether it would land right side up, in the target, and how long it was in the air along with the drag made by parachutes. This test demonstrated to us how NASA dropped off astronauts or parts on different planets.

           Afterwards, we were given a tour of the NASA facility. We saw the rooftop gardens and the rooms that control heating, air conditioning and power. Then we took a break for lunch in the cafeteria. Throughout the afternoon, we saw various things such as where NASA tests different experiments on a large metal structure (and sometimes into their one million gallon pool). We also saw a place where NASA is growing many trees in plastic tubes for support, as well as their mechanical engineering space, the heating and cooling branch, and  an actual structure an astronaut on Mars would stay in. We also took a tour of the facility that holds the wind tunnel.