HICKORY — Catawba Valley Community College engineering students recently participated in the NASA/NC Space Grant Community College High-Altitude Balloon Competition.
Team members included Sidney Richardson, David Penalver, James Biscos, Wa Leng Chang, Jason Rhoney, Brandon Littlejohn and Brennan Wickham. Team advisors include CVCC faculty members Jamie Hill, Andy Owens, and Jim Thomas.
The team’s balloon was launched from the college’s main campus in Hickory and successfully tracked remotely during the duration of its flight to a landing site approximately 80 miles away in a wooded area in Millingport, west of Albemarle. The balloon was discovered later that afternoon hanging at the top of a tree. Initial recovery efforts were unsuccessful, however, several team members persisted in coordinating with the landowners and were successful in recovering the entire payload.
In preparation for the 2019 High-Altitude Ballooning Team Challenge and Competition, members of the CVCC HAB Team also conducted a test launch from a parking lot on the CVCC Main Campus during the Regional Science Olympiad hosted at the college. Team members tracked the test payload to Skippers, Va., but were not able to find/recover the test payload despite multiple trips to the area.
The CVCC team also took their project into the community presenting at the Maiden Middle School STEM Tour, Banoak Elementary School’s third-grade science class, and the ninth-grade Earth science class at Fred T. Foard High School. Fifty paper astronauts created by Banoak Elementary School students were included in the payload and were brought home safely.
Team members Sidney Richardson, David Penalver, and Eric Chang presented their payload design in the Engineering/Technology Design competition at the North Carolina State SkillsUSA Conference and brought home a gold medal.