Channel your passions into space with the NASA Space Apps Challenge weekend

Coming up soon – on the weekend of October 7 & 8, 2023, the annual NASA International Space Apps Challenge is happening again.

Know what a hackathon is? If so, this is one focused on 30 goals, or projects, or “challenges” defined by NASA.

Don’t know what a hackathon is but are eager to learn and participate in one? This is your chance!

Girl at the 2022 NASA Space Apps Challenge in Folsom, California

The NASA Space Apps event is a free global event happening simultaneously in hundreds of cities around the world. For Sacramento area participants, there will also be a Friday evening informal kickoff and meet-and-greet. Granite City Coworking in downtown historic Folsom will be the venue for the event all weekend. (I’m excited and proud to be one of the co-organizers for this local event in my city.)

The NASA International Space Apps Hackathon is an experience where community scientists, coders, technologists, designers, students, artists, storytellers and innovators come together to solve some of our most pressing problems on Earth and in Space. Everyone who registers joins or creates a team. There are 29 Challenges created by NASA experts that teams can choose from. Or a team can create their own.

Teams can be formed now through Saturday morning. Then everyone gets straight to work on creating solutions. On Sunday the hackathon culminates with team presentations (or “pitches”) that are judged by local business leaders, aerospace experts, and investors. Challenges range from Beginner/Youth ages to Advanced and from Climate to Medical, Engineering, Games, and Art. Results and testimonials from previous years have demonstrated that the most innovative collaboration happens when people of all ages and backgrounds participate.

The annual NASA International Space Apps Challenge began in 2012. Since then it has had more than 220,000 registrants in 320 locations encompassing 185+ countries and 11 Space Agencies. Initially, “Space Apps” was only about Space Science. Now it has grown to also include Earth Sciences, Arts, and Humanities challenges alongside technology, thereby building a more inclusive program.

Ingrid Rosten, the local lead for the Folsom regional event, describes what she enjoys most about it. “What I love about this hackathon is bringing the community of all ages together in solving real world and space problems. We need it now more than ever! It’s fun and together we can make a big difference locally and globally. On top of all that there are some very cool prizes provided by NASA and our local sponsors.”  

Go to the Challenges page at the NASA Space Apps Challenge website to look at all of the fun opportunities you have to channel your passions into a space-based team project. Pick the one you would love to do most. Then use the website to search for an event near you. Hopefully you have one. But if not, that’s fine! Teams are assembling to work together virtually too. Learn how on the website – I haven’t tried to do it myself I admit.

Thanks to NASA, the local event organizers, and sponsors who are all helping to foster people from all around the world of all ages and backgrounds to be their own unique kind of “rocket scientists” in the NASA Space Apps Challenge.

Team award at the 2022 NASA Space Apps Challenge in Folsom, California

About Brett Rocket Scientist

Brett creates artful work in engineering, ideas, and innovation. In addition to 2 degrees, 3 patents, and over 15 years experience in aerospace engineering, he is the author of several books to foster STEM careers. He volunteers his time and skills as an officer with professional societies.

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