Neuqua's 'Team Space Bricks' wins moon tech contest
As Nokia employees plan for a 2019 launch of telecommunications equipment to the moon, a group of Naperville-area students got to chime in with ideas for what should be "The Next Big Thing on the Moon."
Ideas about how to communicate on the moon, how to grow food there and how to construct buildings underground to avoid the harsh environment of the moonscape ruled the day as high school students competed to impress Nokia judges with their innovation and scientific expertise.
The "Shark Tank"-style competition involved 12 teams of students from high schools in Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204. After reading written submissions, the judges selected eight of the teams to make three-minute presentations and conduct question-and-answer sessions during an in-person challenge.
The teams were competing for the chance to exhibit their idea for moon-related technology at the Nokia booth Nov. 10 at the TEDxNaperville speakers conference at Yellow Box Community Christian Church, 1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville.
The winner of the booth display -- as well as free tickets to attend the TEDx conference -- was "Team Space Bricks" from Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, featuring members Rahul Bura, Sai Dasari, Sithara Gajapala, Alex Keifer, Ethan Mui and Courtney Redey.
Susan MacNicol, founder and president of Strategic & Creative Marketing Inc. in Aurora, which is handling communications for the TEDxNaperville conference, said the student presentations were "really high-level" and "very sophisticated." Students were "amazingly poised," she said, as judges asked about the technical details of their ideas.
To some questions about materials science or how students would overcome power challenges on the moon, the presenters answered with an honest, "we didn't account for that," MacNicol said.
But Nokia officials encouraged them with a little perspective: ideas and technology have developed at different rates ever since the days of the Renaissance, they said.
"You have ideas now and the technology will develop and will come along, so you will be able to make these things happen," MacNicol said, summing up the message company leaders conveyed.
Joining the "Team Space Bricks" display at the Nokia booth during TEDxNaperville will be the company's own moon rover, which is actually destined for the moon during next year's unmanned launch of telecommunications equipment, and a drone with infrared technology.
Nokia is participating with PTScientists, Vodafone Germany and Audi on the first privately funded moon landing, which aims to set up a 4G communications network on the moon for livestreaming video from the surface to be available for viewers on Earth.