The students spent this school year making a handle that could be used on the International Space Station.
LEBANON, Pennsylvania — Students at the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center work manufacturing parts for NASA. The partnership is possible through NASA’s HUNCH program, which aims to empower and inspire students through a project-based learning program.
Eric Tanger, a precision machining instructor at the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center, discovered the opportunity for the first time.
“I thought it was a unique opportunity for our students,” Tanger said. Now is where we make parts today.
The parts they make are handles for the International Space Station.
“They have to put handholds all over the place, on all four sides, because floating in space, astronauts really like having those handholds so they can anchor themselves while they’re doing things,” said student Rhett Mussr. .
The manufacturing process for these handles began as NASA blueprints. The students built 3D models and eventually toolpaths for their computer numerical control, or CNC, machines in the lab. Their next step? Inspect the parts, which will eventually be shipped to Johnson Space Center in Texas for NASA approval.
Building a room for NASA is an experience students never imagined, according to student Scott Doyno.
“Honestly, I didn’t quite believe it, because we’re all seniors in high school,” Doyno said. “NASA is like a big federal corporation…I never thought about that.”
The involvement of Tangier and his students in this project not only brought real-world skills into the classroom, but also highlighted the need for this type of work.
“It helped spread the message that manufacturing is alive and well,” Tanger said. “It’s something we need every day. I think a lot of people take that message for granted.
His students are grateful for having chosen this path.
“I’m really happy with how my future looks with the opportunity to enter this industry,” Mussr said.
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