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To Infinity and Beyond: City College Plymouth Brings NASA Challenges to Plymouth

City College Plymouth is the first further education college in the country to host the NASA Space Apps Challenge, where innovative solutions are found to interstellar problems.

Aspiring coders, scientists, technologists, and space enthusiasts came together to address the challenges we face on Earth and in space in a two-day international hackathon, which took place in the College’s Regional Centre of Excellence for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

In just 48-hours, five teams developed their solutions to selected challenges. From creating a time capsule to educating extraterrestrial civilisations about human culture, everyone involved had to use their skills and imaginations to address these ‘out of this world’ problems.

Special guest speaker at the event, Dr Samantha Lavender, Director at Pixalytics –  an independent company specialising in Earth observation and helping answer questions about our planet’s resources and behaviour – said:

“At Pixalytics our philosophy is based on the belief that scientific research and innovation are vital to the future development of both our collective knowledge and our society as a whole. The NASA Space Apps Challenge fits in with this philosophy as the work that everyone has been undertaking for the past two days can help explain, develop and enhance our understanding of the world, but it also offers opportunity and hope for our future.

“The South West, and Plymouth in particular, has so much potential – being a digital hub sandwiched between the natural harbour of Plymouth Sound and the green hills of Dartmoor – the City’s proud maritime heritage and thriving marine industry make it a great place to study global issues and solve them. It has been fantastic to see so many amazing and innovative solutions to complex problems – it goes to show there is a lot of talent in our City.”

City College Plymouth’s STEM Hub Officer, Andy Robinson-Noades, said:

“It has been incredibly exciting to host the NASA Space Apps Challenge. At City College Plymouth we promote the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths, so it was fantastic to see so many people come together, regardless of their background or skill level, to explore these subjects.

“Events like these open up the range of possibilities in STEM and encourage people to consider a career they may have never thought of before.”

At the conclusion of the event, teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges with the best of the best progressing to compete on a global level.

The two teams that progressed were ‘Geeks & Gamers’ who created an immersive simulation of potential Mars missions, and ‘Applied Sciences’ who designed a suit to measure the vital signs of future mars colonisers.

Those interested in seeing what’s out there and discovering a career in STEM subjects can find out about the wide range of courses on offer at City College Plymouth’s Open Day on Saturday 3 November between 10.00am and 1.00pm.

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