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NASA Turns to College Students to Design New Suit Technology

Bradley University student Zach Bachmann didn’t grow up thinking he’d be an astronaut.“I’m short, blind and asthmatic, so I can’t really be an astronaut if I wished to,” he said.But a lifelong interest in video games and computers is putting him at the center of a nationwide effort to boost new space helmet technology for the next generation of astronauts going to the moon and, someday NASA hopes, to Mars.“I’ve always been into sci-fi and tech, so it sounded like this was kind of a cool project,” Bachmann told VOA.That “cool project” is NASA’s Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students, or S.U.I.T.S Design Challenge, which allows college students to design information displays astronauts could see without obstructing their view of what’s in front of them.“You still see the world around, but you would just have overlays,” said Bachmann’s teammate, Abby Irwin. That means, she said, “the vitals would be an overlay, but they would still see the moon or whatever they are working on.”Irwin is a design lead on Bradley’s S.U.I.T.S. team, which uses the latest Microsoft HoloLens to create and test their ideas. According to Microsoft, the HoloLens is a virtual reality headset that allows the wearer to see 3-D holographic images.“We kind of got examples from flight software that pilots use and train with, but we also got like some ideas from the game Skyrim, how they do navigation in video games,” she said.Providing more autonomyWhile NASA has announced a new spacesuit for the upcoming Artemis moon missions scheduled later this decade, the next challenge is figuring out the final version of the technology embedded inside.That’s where S.U.I.T.S. plays a role.“The idea was, ‘Why don’t we put some funding toward having students contribute solutions to these technical challenges?’” said NASA’s Brandon Hargis, outlining how the S.U.I.T.S. program helps NASA solve several old problems, including how to handle the time delay communicating between Earth and the moon and the longer lag time for signals to reach Mars.“The main technical challenge is providing more autonomy for the astronaut during a planetary EVA (extravehicular activity), in this case 250,000 miles away from Earth on the moon, or several millions of miles away on Mars,” he said. “There’s somewhat of a delay in communications, so if the astronaut has a little more autonomy to make some decisions based on the plan of the mission, augmented reality could help them do that.”Hargis, who ...

NASA Turns to College Students to Design New Suit Technology

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, is partnering with teams on college campuses across America to develop new spacesuit technology that will help astronauts returning to the moon, and those who will eventually reach Mars. VOA's Kane Farabaugh visited one team in Peoria, Illinois, hoping to make a big contribution to the US space program.  
Camera: Kane Farabaugh      Producer: Kane Farabaugh and Bronwyn Benito

Columbia Scholarship Paves Path for Refugees

Columbia University in New York is providing scholarships to help students who have been displaced from their homelands due to war, violence, hunger and natural disasters. For VOA, Keith Kocinski reports from New York City on one woman’s journey from refugee to student at one of America’s most prominent universities.Camera: Nick Jastrzebski & Keith Kocinski 
Producer: Ihar Tsikhanenka 

The Voice of Gen Z

Meet members of Coalition Z, a student lead policy organization working to make a grassroots impact across the US.  Reporter/Camera: Aaron Fedor, Producer: Kathleen McLaughlin, Editor:  Kyle Dubiel

Largest Tuition Strike in US History Highlights Financial Challenges of Pandemic

Student loan debt in the U.S. accounts for over $1.7 trillion, a figure higher than the GDP of countries like Canada, Russia, and South Korea. Now, students at one of the United States most prestigious universities say they will withhold their tuition payments unless the school meets their demands. VOA’s Keith Kocinski in New York City with more.Camera: Nick JastrzebskiProduced by: Henry Hernandez 

Robot-Driven Camera Makes Virtual Class Seem Less Virtual

During the pandemic some schools are able to go to a so-called “hybrid model” where some students physically go to school while others remain at home and log in virtually. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee tells us about a robot connecting students and teachers in a hybrid classroom

Issues Important to Young Voters  

“My name is Natalie Bergeron. I'm 20 years old.” “My name is Daniel Hendrick. I’m 19 years old.”  “Nelson Quezada, 22 years old.” “Michael Rotstein, age 20. I go to Stetson University.” Daniel Hendrick
“I am a sophomore at Stetson University.” Natalie Bergeron
“And I go to Stetson University.”   Nelson Quezada 
“I attend Stetson University.” Daniel Hendrick
“So, for me, as a queer-identifying man, like, this election is super important.” Nelson Quezada 
“So, immigration reform is really important to me.” Natalie Bergeron
“Environmental issues that are smaller scale than just saying a blanket statement about climate change.”   Michael Rotstein
“I’m very pro-Second Amendment; I like my gun.” Natalie Bergeron
“So, I worked with a butterfly over the summer that used to be the most prevalent butterfly species in all Florida, and only natural habitat is now one tiny island in the [Florida] Keys. And that's because we've built up so much on the Florida coastline. So, I think one of the biggest things we need to focus on is stopping habitat destruction because of development.”   Daniel Hendrick
“A lot of dangerous beliefs are being emboldened and lifted up. And so, it's this election is important because I need to know that I will be safe. I need to know that I will be able to be who I am anywhere in this country.”   Nelson Quezada 
“Um, I'm an immigrant. I immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador when I was seven. And so, ensuring we have an immigration policy that is inclusive, that it provides the millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.” Michael Rotstein
“Wants to establish a gun tax — $200 on each semi-automatic rifle. I am heavily against that. Yes, it still doesn't go exactly against the Constitution, I just don't find it very constitutional to tax guns, especially on people that have already owned them. The tax kind of disincentivizes people who own guns to keep them; they don't want to keep paying that $200 yearly tax, and I'm very against it.”  

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