NASA International SpaceApps Challenge

As you may or may not know, last weekend marked the international NASA Space Apps Challenge. In 24 cities around the world, teams were competing to create/hack/fudge and invent ground-breaking hard/software solutions that might be applicable to NASA’s terrestrial and interplanetary activities. Whether a result of budget cuts or a savvy appreciation of the emerging international maker/hacker movement this event marked an interesting turning point for collaboration and appreciation of the substantial creative prowess of young technologists around the world, north and south.

access:energy were invited along to mentor and suggest a suitable challenge. This we duly did, presenting the yet-to-be-nailed problem of affordable remote data-harvesting for rural, renewable energy installations, a challenge with obvious bearing on access’ activities, but also with much broader potential application.


Armed with nothing other than a slightly dodgy old mobile phone, some hints from Joe our Yale researcher and various developer boards, Telewa, Percila, Boniface and Peter (from the excellent UoN FabLab) set their considerable talents to bear on the challenge. 24 hours later they had developed a device that not only accurately recorded the voltage and current and hence power output of a wind turbine, but was able to automatically communicate this information via SMS to my telephone. This was no theoretical exercise; the device was fully operational. I cannot over emphasise the significance and incredible ingenuity of this achievement.

This did not go unrecognised and the team won second prize in the national competition meaning they are going on to pitch their skills against the World’s best in the international finals.

It is with humble awe that I offer my sincerest congratulations to the four of you; you smashed it.

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