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Middlesex County commissioners honor Magnet Schools students for winning NASA challenge

5 June 2023 · Joseph Bakes 

Student enters a magnet school for the first time of the school year.
Middlesex County commissioners honor Magnet Schools students who conquered NASA's application challenge. Isaiah Gomez/Middlesex County Magnet Schools 

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – The Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners has honored a team of students from the Middlesex County Edison Academy Magnet School that impressed NASA with a winning entry in its annual space agency’s App Development Challenge. 

The students received proclamations from the Board of Commissioners at its June 1, 2023, meeting.

As explained by Yuvrav Lakhotia, a junior from Edison, Team Ad Lunam's Unreal Engine 5 application Lunar Explorer is a realistic simulation of the lunar South Pole that takes users to Faustini Rim A.

“As a candidate landing site for the Artemis III Mission, Faustini Rim A is a prime region for establishing a long-term base, sampling moon ice, and performing experiments in permanent shadow,” he said.

The simulation envisions “a futuristic rover capable of freely navigating the terrain.”

“Users can select origin and destination points anywhere in the region and follow a plotted route, optimized for shortest distance or minimum hill climbing, across terrain rendered using data from the Planetary Geodesy Data Archive,” according to Yurav.

“The route includes optimally-placed checkpoints for communication back to Earth, with data points such as position, elevation angle, azimuth angle, and slope constantly updated throughout the journey and communicated through shaded terrain modes matching gradient color keys to ensure an accurate, accessible, and aesthetic user experience,” he said.

The other members of the team are seniors Aarav Agrawal of South Brunswick and Samuel Lihn of Piscataway, both peer mentors in the Academy, juniors Sushant Chadha of Plainsboro, Benjamin Louie of East Brunswick and Pranav Sitaraman of Edison, and sophomore Akshada Guruvayur of Edison.

Aarav and Samuel were part of an Edison Academy team that won the NASA App Challenge two years ago but were denied a trip to Johnson Space Center in Houston because of the COVID-19 lockdown and instead were recognized through a Zoom award ceremony. They put together this year’s team, which made the trip to Texas in April.

Team Ad Lunam all are members of the Academy’s Computer Science Club, advised by math teacher Michelle Gomes.

They were accompanied to Houston by Superintendent of Schools Jorge E. Diaz and Magnet Schools Director of Career and Technical Education Lee Neamand.

Middlesex County Edison Academy Magnet School is ranked the #1 high school in New Jersey and #23 in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report last year.


About Middlesex County Magnet Schools 
Established in 1914 by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners as the nation's first vocational and technical high school district, Middlesex County Magnet Schools fulfill an essential need for free occupational training in the State of New Jersey. The district receives high school and adult education applications from nearly 118,000 families throughout Middlesex County. Students in the district benefit from 33 distinct career program offerings on campuses situated in five local municipalities: East Brunswick, Edison, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, and Woodbridge.  

Follow the district online @mcmagnetschools: 
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