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Nipmuc Engineering Students Recognized in International Event

Engineering II students (Alex Heather, Derek Cerundolo, Marcelo Filho, Liam O’Connell) are part of Team Nipmuc. Photo Courtesy Mendon Upton Regional School District

By Shelley Ryan
Recently, Mendon Upton School Superintendent Maureen Cohen shared news that Nipmuc Regional High School Engineering students had been honored in an international competition. Team Nipmuc, Engineering II students Dominic Abisso, Joe Antoun, Derek Cerundolo, Alex Heather, Marcelo Filho, Ronan Joyce, Liam O’Connell, Alysse Stasio, Jacob Snow, and Jackson Theall participated in a month-long MaxIQ Space World Space Week 2022 competition based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The students used CubeSat (cube satellite) sensors to gather data on light and ultraviolet levels for a week. Data analysis determined a solar panel should always face the sun to maximize electricity production. To address this challenge, the students designed a solar panel with a motor to orient the panel to the sun continually. Judges selected Team Nipmuc as runner-up and the students were awarded advanced CubeSat sensors.
The Engineering II team was also selected to participate in MaxIQ Space’s Suborbital Launch Challenge. MaxIQ Space has teamed up with bluShift Aerospace, a rocket company startup based in Brunswick, Maine, seeking to launch the CubeSat with rockets using non-toxic, carbon-neutral biofuel. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to participate in real-world science and engineering,” said Engineering II teacher James Gorman.  
The students attended a full rocket test fire in Brunswick, Maine. The students designed and built special devices to fit the rocket during the test fire. These devices collected mission-critical data, which the students have been analyzing to share with bluShift Aerospace to improve future launches and test their hypothesis that they are using carbon-neutral fuel. The students’ CubeSat will be part of the company’s first suborbital test fire during the first half of 2023.
Students will also present their project in the World Space Week 2023 MaxIQ Space competition. “Congratulations to Team Nipmuc and Mr. Gorman on these great successes. Projects such as these help students learn how to innovate collaborate and communicate,” Superintendent Cohen said. “They are honing the skills they need to be successful throughout life, and will have the knowledge to create effective and meaningful change.”
In April, the Nipmuc team will be joining a student symposium at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, DC. “We are so excited about this opportunity and, given the travel costs for the kids, we are seeking corporate sponsors for this amazing educational event,” said Gorman. “It is truly an opportunity of a lifetime for these kids, so if you or your company is interested in sponsoring the 2023 Epic Challenge Student Symposium, please contact me,” at [email protected], for details.