Travis and Amanda Davis, 2012 and 2013 graduates of South Dakota Mines who worked for NASA, are bringing the NASA-sponsored Space Apps Challenge to Rapid City on October 1-2.
The NASA International Space Apps Challenge is touted as an “international hackathon for programmers, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, technologists and others in cities around the world, where teams use NASA’s free and open data to solve real-world problems to tackle earth and space.”
The event is free and open to the public. The event features a series of challenges for teams to choose from. This is the first time Rapid City has hosted the NASA International Space Apps Challenge. The global event, which began in 2012, takes place over two days each October.
“I am very excited to see what ideas our community will come up with. … The NASA International Space Apps Challenge is an excellent way for people to learn more about this data and use it to solve Earth and space problems,” Amanda said. “This year there are 22 challenges for your team of one to six participants to choose from, and the ideas and possibilities are endless.”
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The top three local teams are awarded prizes and one team advances to the next round of the international competition. The grand prize will be awarded to 10 teams from around the world who will be invited to watch a live rocket launch from a NASA facility.
The event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, October 1 at the David Lust Accelerator Building in Rapid City. Participants must register before the start of the event this morning. Participants are encouraged to form a team and pre-register so they can check available resources in advance. Go to 2022.spaceappschallenge.org/locations/rapid-city/ to pre-register.
Competitors do not need to have a team at the time of registration; For those not yet part of a team, there will be a team building activity at the start of the event. Each attendee will receive a t-shirt, prizes and food at the free event. Door awards from NASA and others will also be presented during the event.
Although the Space Apps Challenge is about solving problems with NASA data, participants do not need to be experienced computer programmers. Teams that encompass a wide range of expertise from many different backgrounds and identities are best at finding solutions and opportunities within the challenges presented by NASA, Amanda said.
“When NASA accepted our proposal to bring the Space Apps Challenge to Rapid City, Amanda and I were thrilled,” said Travis.
“We are very excited to host the world’s largest space and science hackathon in the Black Hills,” said Amanda. “Having co-hosted the NASA Space Apps International Challenge in Dublin, Ireland, we knew we wanted to bring this back to the Hills. It offers an opportunity to bring the community together, but also to foster ideas, growth and potential new business opportunities in the region.”
During his time at NASA, Travis worked with NASA’s Technology Transfer Office on patent filing and business outreach projects. Amanda worked as a NASA air traffic controller for the International Space Station. Now they both see real business and innovation opportunities in publicly available NASA data.
“What most people don’t realize is that a lot of NASA data is available for free,” Amanda said.
“Very few people or organizations tap into this treasure trove of information and intellectual property simply because they don’t know where to find it and/or how to use it,” Travis said. “The NASA Space Apps Challenge shines a bright light on the use of the data made available through the idea of ’apps,’ but at the same time we want to make people aware of the vast intellectual property that is available to all through NASA’s Technology Transfer Offices stands.”