It’s almost 7:30 a.m. on July 30, and six Friday Harbor High School students are seconds away from missing the deadline to an international aerospace competition.
The students have been up all night, working on complex engineering, and the only obstacle standing in their way of completion is repacking a borrowed printer required for the contest.
“So we have six guys … with no sleep for the past day trying to get a printer in a box,” said junior Arlo Harold. “We were like, ‘come on.’”
Harold and the five other students were able to pack the printer, present their project’s 50 slides in 35 minutes and return home as runner-up world champs.
“We got second place, which was a bit disappointing, but then we figured, we made it pretty far, we did pretty good,” said senior Brandon Payne.
The Friday Harbor aerospace team was one of 250 high schools from nine countries tasked to design a city in space, fit for human habitation, within 42 hours. The team members planned the mock settlement with students from the United States, Pakistan and India at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
There was little time for rest, as San Juan youth outlined the majority of the conceptual designs and images for a city on the moon. Their settlement, they proposed, would be marketed to businesses looking to launch in a new space economy.
“No one ended sleeping that much [one] night,” said senior Joely Loucks. “Arlo didn’t sleep at all, Lucy and I got a solid three hours. It was pretty intense but fun.”
Despite being both novice contestants at the International Space Settlement Design Competition and from the smallest school, island students stood their own.
“The different perspective we brought … [were] really great,” said senior Lucy Urbach. “We were new, but we had a lot of ideas.”
Teammates, including junior Evan Foley, plan to try out for the competition again this spring. Students also formed an aerospace club with their teacher Daniel Garner and are looking for aviation and space flight experts to learn more about the field. The contest’s imaginary scenario sparked real-life innovation for the young competitors.
“I’ve always loved science fiction, [and] being part of a project that is science fiction, but still set in the real world, … it was kind of an eye-opener,” said Payne.