The mission of NASA’s HUNCH Program (High school students United with NASA to Create Hardware) is to empower and inspire students through a Project-Based Learning program where high school students learn 21st-century skills and have the opportunity to launch their careers through participation in the design and fabrication of real-world valued products for NASA. Projects are available in six HUNCH focus areas — design and prototyping, software, hardware, sewn flight articles, video and media, and culinary arts.
To participate in the program schools must meet a set of minimum qualifications and it is recommended that the school faculties include teachers with experience in the focus area. Once qualified, the school and NASA enter into a Space Act Agreement and NASA provides expertise and guidance to further engage students with the design and fabrication of the products.
Whitney Young, HUNCH Space Act Agreements manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center explained, “The astronauts will put in requests for things that they need on the space station, and essentially it is a wish list that gets cast out to school systems.”
Students at Dade County Middle School in Trenton, Georgia are members of the HUNCH Program and are using the school’s Stratasys Fortus 450mc and high-performance ULTEM filament to produce flight-ready super-strength carbon fiber elements for NASA, the International Space Station, and other future space projects.
HUNCH started in 2003 with two schools in Alabama and one in Houston. There are currently 76 HUNCH Space Act Agreements across the country and the program has produced more than 1,500 training and flight items for the space station program.
Commenting on the project in Trenton, Bob Zeek, Co-founder of HUNCH, said, “This is a one-of-a-kind experience for the students in Dade County to kick-start their careers and interact with a piece of NASA. Empowering and inspiring the next generation of students is the key mission for the NASA HUNCH Program and will certainly ring true in Trenton this year. You never know, one of those students just might be the next NASA astronaut, engineer, or scientist.”