CULLMAN, Ala. – On Thursday, Bill Gibson, education mentor / engineering specialist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), visited the Cullman Area Technology Academy (CATA) to allow students in the precision machining program to autograph stowage locker compartment covers that will soon be flight–certified by NASA to use on the International Space Station. This event is the culmination of CATA’s involvement in NASA’s “High Schools United with NASA Creating Hardware” (HUNCH) program, which started with CATA building door panels for ISS stowage lockers last year.
CATA precision machining instructor Tim White has been involved with HUNCH for several years. The program is a partnership between industry and education that allows students access to materials and machining processes that build tremendous experience and creates awareness for the opportunities in the machining business.
CATA recently undertook a new HUNCH project—building handrails for astronauts to use in training. The handrails serve as anchoring points at multiple locations throughout a station.
CATA Principal Billy Troutman said, “I couldn’t be more excited and proud for these students and Mr. White and Mr. Capps. We have incredible students that are matched with incredible teachers. Just imagine—students from Cullman, Alabama have signatures that will be at the International Space Station! I am truly thankful for the support of Dr. Barnette and the Board members for supporting CATA and the role we play in preparing students for success in today’s workplace.”
White added, “This is a winning situation for everyone. Our students get hands-on experience in a real-world setting.
“It doesn’t get much better than having the chance to work with NASA. How cool is it that we have built something that is going to space? Not many people get that opportunity!”
Cullman County Schools Special Projects Coordinator Dr. T.J. Franey said, “Thank you, NASA, for allowing students in the precision machining program to have a role in creating parts for the storage lockers that will be placed on the International Space Station. Students had the privilege and honor of not only making parts for the storage lockers, but to also sign their names inside the lockers; a historical moment for Cullman County students. What a wonderful story to tell families and future generations to come.”
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