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Local High School Students Honored for Winning International NASA Competition

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On Wednesday a local team of high school students were honored for winning an international award from NASA.

The Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology school in Reno hosted an assembly to honor dozens of students who placed in state and international competitions. The team that stood out the most was the NASA Human exploration Rover Challenge winners. The group won the international competition last week in Huntsville, AL.

At the assembly they had to drive last year's rover because the buggy used to win this year is still in the process of being shipped back to Reno. Team captain Chris Tensen says it feels amazing to bring home the win. "I couldn't believe it. It was such a surreal feeling to know that we worked so hard and we're so young in this competition and now we're on top of the world," said Tensen.

More than 30 students at the school worked on the NASA rover project. Six of them went to the competition in Alabama, and came home with the win. Nearly 100 other high schools and colleges attended the competition. They were from all over the world including Russia, Germany, India, Mexico and Puerto Rico. 

The team from Reno got the fastest time, three seconds, to assemble the rover. After that they had to drive it over 1/2 mile of rock, gravel and sand to simulate driving on other planets and Nevada is a great place to practice. "It takes, we're talking hundreds of hours just to put the rover together, said Adviser Jim Cooney.

Madelyn Newcombe is one of the athletes who rides and drives the rover, she's also the youngest on the team. "We trained every other day at lunch. All the fabrication, all the welding. We all got that done on Saturdays," said Newcombe.

The team was also scored on interviews they did with NASA, plus a presentation of the design of the rover which also won them the Neil Armstrong Design Award. "I feel like a very proud father," said Principal Robert Sullivan. "This is just the second year that we will have a 4-year graduating class."

The students credit the teachers and staff at AACT for teaching them to skills to compete and win at the international level. "It was such a great all around effort and we brought it home," said Tensen.

Students we spoke with say they're already starting to plan for next year's NASA competition. For the students graduating, they're excited to put this win on their resume. We're also told NASA was so inspired by some of the student's work, they may use some ideas on some of their upcoming projects.

Written by Chloe Beardsley

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