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Climate change and robotics at NASA Space Apps, Auckland

Climate change, asteroids and robotics on the agenda at NASA Space Apps, Auckland

Teams of university students will pit themselves against the world when they take part in the NASA International Space Apps Challenge at AUT University, Auckland this weekend.

AUT and the US Embassy have again partnered to run New Zealand’s only Space Apps event, one of almost 100 simultaneous ‘codeathons’ around the world where teams have 48 hours to tackle challenges posed by NASA. The student teams will be mentored by academics from their universities, with the Executive Director of KiwiSpace Foundation Mark Mackay providing additional mentoring as needed.

“For students, academics and those with an interest in technology and science this is a golden opportunity to work collaboratively to solve real world problems,” says event organiser, AUT Professor of Astronomy Sergei Gulyaev.

US Consul General Jim Donegan said the Kiwi can-do attitude was perfectly suited to the International Space Apps Challenge.

“In my experience, New Zealand students thrive on large scale, complex challenges. This event is another opportunity for them to display their ingenuity and creativity.

“I look forward to seeing the solutions the teams come up with in collaboration with NASA and peers around the world,” he said.

NASA Space Apps is based around the idea of crowdsourcing innovation to solve challenges that relate to both space exploration and social needs. Solutions can include mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualisation and platform solutions. The best solutions from each local event are submitted to NASA to be considered for global recognition.

The 40 challenges offered in 2014 represent NASA’s current mission priorities and are organised into five themes: Earth Watch, Technology in Space, Human Spaceflight, Robotics and Asteroids. The challenges include: designing clothing and accessories for space travellers, converting a smartphone into a satellite, designing a network of robotic telescopes to track potentially dangerous asteroids and creating tools to help communities prepare for coastal inundation.

The Auckland NASA Space Apps event is happening at AUT’s city campus from 9am, Saturday 12 April until 9am, Monday 14 April. Teams will present their solutions for judging at5.30pm on Monday 14 April.

The Auckland judges are: US Consul General Jim Donegan, GM Solutions & Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent Richard Fraser and CEO of the New Zealand Technology Industry Association Candace Kinser.

For more information about the International Space Apps Challenge, including the challenges:

More than 30 participants have registered for the Auckland event, including four AUT teams (Industrial Design and Innovation, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, Engineering and Creative Technologies), one Massey University team (Product Development and Mechatronics) and one team from the University of Auckland.

So far, one team (AUT Industrial Design and Innovation) has selected its challenge:

Challenges under consideration by the other teams include:


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