A-A senior's passion for science will take him to India in February

Friday, January 11, 2013

Alta-Aurelia senior Joe Napierala has a great fascination with science and has aspirations to have a career in the medical field.

Last March he had the opportunity to be a part of the NASA-sponsored Space-Settlement Design Competition at the Johnson Space Center, a program which has been available to students for many years.

The duty of the students was to come up with a plan to develop a settlement on Mercury. Though the project was all fabricated, they had to take their duties seriously and use their knowledge in math, science and even agriculture to come up with the most realistic plan they could.

The students had 28 hours to come with a plan and present their ideas to the judges - real NASA specialists.

Of all the students that were involved in the competition, only a small number were selected to come back to Houston this past summer and participate with international students - Joe was one of them. In the summer event, he met and worked with students from Argentina, India, Pacific Islands as well as students from the U.S. Their project was to work on a fabricated plan for settlement on Venus.

When the project was over, 10 students were selected to take part in a similar competition at the Asian Regional Space Design Competition in New Delhi, India. Judges were very impressed with Joe and his communication and leadership skills that he was one of the small group selected. This is the first time that Americans have been invited to the event.

"It's very exciting," said Joe, who has gladly accepted the invitation. The trip is planned for Feb. 17-26. His science teacher, Will Dible, will be traveling with him.

Where did his interest in NASA come from?

"I have a passion for science and NASA encompasses all aspects of science forcing different disciples of science to cross pollinate, which leads to new ideas and innovations. I believe NASA is a leading force in world for bring about new technology and innovation because it looks to making the impossible possible and when you do that new ideas surface, ideas that could change the world," Joe shared.

While interested in a medical career, the NASA experience is guiding him towards astrobiology or physics for his undergrad work before going to medical school.

He admitted he is not familiar with India but will try to familiarize himself with the country before he leaves.

This is a great experience for Joe and he will represent the school and communities well. If anyone is willing to donate funds for his trip, please contact him or Will Dible at the A-A High School. He would be very grateful.

Joe is the son of Kara Napierala and Tony Napierala and the grandson of Dave and Trish Friedrich.