Future Engineers Will Work On A Replicator

Star Wars may still have the cultural attention of the moment, but Star Trek isn’t going anywhere.  The latest evidence is the focus of this year’s Future Engineers Challenge – food.  NASA and Star Trek are teaming with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers on this year’s challenge (H/T Astronaut Mike Massimino).  Participants (two divisions, ages 5-12 and 13-19) will design a ‘digital 3D model of a non-edible, food-related item for astronauts to 3D print in the year 2050.’  This would be something that could be used to help produce and/or prepare food for astronauts.  Having it be 3D printable means that it would not have to be transported to space, but made there from materials readily available.

(Before you focus on how Star Trek replicators used transporter technology to materialize food and relate materials – it was not so in the first Star Trek.  Captain Kirk and company dealt with a more sophisticated version of something like this Israeli device, which takes the coffee pod machine concept and applies it to food.)

Individuals seeking to compete (no teams permitted) should consult the rules and prepare their submissions by May 1.  Submissions will include a brief name and description of your object, along with an image and 3D printing file.  A total of 15 submissions in each category (ages 5-12 and ages 13-19) will receive prizes, which include various 3D printing resources, and a trip to New York City for the grand prize winners, along with a Star Trek prize package.  The organizers encourage entrants to follow the Design Guidelines or risk receiving lower scores.

Good luck to all the entrants.

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