"Cities in Space" Competition (Russ Glenn, Physics & Honors Inquiry Program Instructor)

Last month, six bold freshmen from the St. Michael’s “Cities in Space” club headed to the final frontier of the UT campus to compete in the annual conference and event at the New Worlds Institute - winning an impressive 2nd place. The students, Jake Cameron, Bennet Eichorst, Neil Flores, Brendan Gilyan, Emiliano Macias, and Daniel Pinzon worked for two months designing a 1,000 person colony that could survive the harsh environment of the planet Mars. They were supported by Michael Gallinghouse, who submitted work but was unable to attend the conference.

Their design placed the habitation quarters for the colonists underground to protect from the radiation from the Sun and from cosmic rays. Included in their habitation was a recreation center, a governmental building, and a building for the science that would be performed while living on the planet. On the surface, the students placed much of the apparatus for life support, including a greenhouse, nuclear power station, MOXIE units to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen (O2), and a launch/ landing pad for trips to and from the planet.
To participate in the competition, students had to write a 10-page paper showing their research, build a 3-D model of their plan, and then explain their plan to the judges.

In addition to the competition, the students heard from professionals in the space industry like Thomas Markusic, CEO of Austin’s Firefly Aerospace, and Rick Tumlinson, the Founder of New Worlds Institute. A couple of the students were able to return to the UT campus to present their work to guests at the “Space Cowboy Ball” held that evening. These students were lucky enough to meet both Han Solo and Chewbacca - actually Ernst Cline (author, Ready Player One) and his brother in costumes.

We are already looking forward to competing again next year!