Platt students' prototype earns them review with NASA

Four Platt Technical High School students have been chosen to participate in the NASA HUNCH Design and Prototyping Final Review at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

HUNCH stands for High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware.

The Design and Prototyping HUNCH program is a way for students of all skill levels to develop innovative solutions to problems posed by life on the International Space Station, according to a program website.

Many of the projects are items personally requested by the International Space Station crew to help ease living conditions aboard the station. Other projects come from Flight Crew Systems and Operational groups at NASA that need more idea development.

“Our goal is to bring the best ideas from each project together for a final review at Johnson Space Center where they can be reviewed in greater detail,” according to the NASA website.

Austin Art, 15, and Ethan Feldman,15, from Milford, along with Justin Kelly, 16, from Derby, and Shayne White, 15, from West Haven — all students at Platt — have been selected to participate in that final review.

The Platt Tech HUNCH team was one of three teams chosen from schools around the country, and the final review will be held April 25 at the Johnson Space Center.

Their project — the Crew Personalized Mission Reminder Tool — uses mission data from NASA’s Playbook to create a personalized reminder tool for the astronauts, allowing them to easily see what they need to do on a daily basis.

Ed Martinez, instructor of information systems technology at Platt, said that early in the school year he was approached by the manufacturing department head, Dave Tuttle, who had his students work on a project a couple of years back.

“He let me know that NASA was adding a software component to the project, and gave me the project manager’s email address,” Martinez said. “Within a month of contacting her, she was down here, with a rundown of the program, and examples of what high school students had done for NASA.”

The students were given a list of various projects to work on. The team was assembled, they chose the project and they went to work.

“Every aspect of the project is their own work,” Martinez said. “I and my colleague, Tom Viola, would offer professional advice, discuss the feasibility of different aspects of the project, motivate and give encouragement.”

But not one bit of code was produced, written, directed, or designed by Martinez or Viola.

“I’m extremely proud of these young men,” Martinez said. “They are a testament of what hard, sometimes mind-numbing work can bring you with a bit vision, patience and dedication to seeing something through. They do the Connecticut Technical High School System proud, and are an example of what schools can and do produce.”

A GoFundMe page has been started for the students to help pay for their trip to Texas. The students need funds for transportation and lodging. They are hoping to raise a total of $5,000.

The GoFundMe page is located at