The Northwest Indian College Space Center
May 8, 2015 6:28 AM   Subscribe

The joke was funny because this was just a tiny, two-year college, with no engineering program. Getting into space was the last thing on the minds of these students; they were just trying to escape poverty. Next thing they knew, NASA was calling them up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (14 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
That resourcefulness, borne out of poverty, has helped the Northwest Indian College Space Center outperform some schools with far greater resources. That gumption is what caught NASA’s attention.

Mamta Nagaraja, an engineer with the space agency, said these students have qualities NASA would love to have on a team.

“Being able to have somebody on the team who is resourceful will give you that perspective,” she said.


Well, that makes perfect sense. If you find yourself needing to fit a square peg in a round hole, why not have someone who actually needed to solve that problem in the past, if only out of necessity?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:38 AM on May 8, 2015


Reminds me of The Lebanese Rocket Society, which existed in the 1960s, then received some fine attention in a 2012 documentary-cum-art project of the same name. I like NASA's encouragement -- & the teacher who got things going with three rocket kits seems like a solid person. Thanks for posting.
posted by foodbedgospel at 6:40 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Very similar to the Carl Hayden Community High School Falcon Robotics Club story - poor school outperforms MIT and others with real money.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:40 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm reading Andy Weir's The Martian right now, and it's clear that these students would be much more likely to pull off surviving being abandoned on Mars, growing potatoes in poop, and making water out of rocket fuel than your average student who has always had a kit with all necessary supplies handed to them. As a professor at a minority serving institution, it makes me want to find a similar competition for my biology students to enter. I think they would do well.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:48 AM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


This is awesome.
posted by PMdixon at 6:53 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


This makes me so happy. That is all. Yay SCIENCE!
posted by larthegreat at 7:03 AM on May 8, 2015


That is such a great story! Not only did they get NASA's attention, but also some funds to keep them at the program, which is so cool.
posted by xingcat at 7:13 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great story, thanks for sharing this!

Very similar to the Carl Hayden Community High School Falcon Robotics Club story - poor school outperforms MIT and others with real money.

Wired has a long article on this topic. There's a documentary, Underwater Dreams, and a dramatic retelling, Spare Parts, about this story.

There's also Northampton County High School East, who won an EV competition by using parts from junkyards, instead of new vehicles donated from local dealerships, as other competitors had.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


*Imagines a USA where all our top scientists are Native American*

Ok I might have a little more faith in our future now
posted by Mooseli at 7:51 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is great.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:58 AM on May 8, 2015


Nice. Awesome even. I want to go to the First Nations Launch.
posted by emmet at 8:17 AM on May 8, 2015


Nice story BB, thanks for posting :)
posted by doctor_negative at 9:35 AM on May 8, 2015


This is too cool! I met Gary Brandt and his students at NARCON in 2011. This story makes me very happy.
posted by mpark at 11:05 AM on May 8, 2015


Very happy making.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:23 PM on May 8, 2015


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