TWO A-level students who spent a fortnight at the NASA United Space School in August have been praised as being great ambassadors for the island.
Katy Myers and Rosie Watson were awarded scholarships to the Space School at the University of Houston, joining young people from a number of countries.
ManSat sponsors two Manx students attending the programme each year, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Children.
The company’s finance director, Ian Jarritt, said: ‘They were both right at the top of the programme, against any other nation in the world.’
Education Minister Tim Crookall MHK congratulated the students, saying they were ‘great ambassadors’.
Rosie and Katy attended lectures given by industry experts, astronauts and NASA scientists, and went on a number of trips, including to Space Center Houston.
For Ramsey Grammar School student Rosie, who lives in Baldrine, the best part of the trip was visiting the Ad Astra lab housing a prototype rocket engine which could reach Mars in just 40 days: ‘It was really cool to be able to see the working parts,’ she said.
Rosie has wanted to work in robotics for a long time and now has a greater understanding of how to get into the industry.
Katy, who lives in Onchan and goes to St Ninian’s High School, said it was hard to choose one highlight, saying: ‘We were there when Curiosity landed on Mars. There was such a great atmosphere.’
The NASA’s rover is on a quest to find out whether Mars was once habitable.
Katy said she was really inspired by the trip, adding: ‘I definitely want to work in the space industry.’
In November, Mr Jarritt will be going into secondary schools to promote the scholarship for 2013. Candidates write three essays on space topics, which are assessed by NASA representatives.
Rosie and Katy encouraged people to enter. Rosie advised students to ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’, while Katy said: ‘Three essays might seem like a lot but it’s really not. It’s a really small price for what you get.’
The first student to attend, sponsored by ManSat, was in 2000. From 2001-2006, one year 12 student (ages 16-17) was selected each year. Since 2007, two students have made the trip.
Explaining ManSat’s continued sponsorship, Mr Jarritt said: ‘We are based in the Isle of Man and it’s not entirely altruistic why we do this.
‘It’s important we have people that will come back to the island from uni and college and work in the industry we are working to build up.
‘And if they don’t come back they will be great ambassadors, telling people all the good things in the Isle of Man from a space point of view.’
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