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Schülerberichte - 2014
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Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

What is most important for each of the team members to concentrate on right now is the goal—with all of the difficulties that come along side it. Most have had little to no interaction with each other and have a great language and cultural border to leap across—but what they must keep in mind, is the goal. I am happy to say this is what I am seeing from the students as the two Moonbuggies stand today in the workshop near to completion.

The two students from Germany—Mathilda and Tobias had met just a few times before boarding the plane with me on Saturday. Tobias has been able to significantly increase his practical skills through work with ISEI and now is second in technical ability to the Chief Designer – Evgeniy Zakutin. Vadim, the member coming from the Siberian region of Russia, has one of the largest challenges of them all. His English is at the minimum and is only able to understand the basic essentials. But what is more important, is that he has a large wealth of technical ability as Tobias does and focuses completely on the work that is in front of him with the Moonbuggy. He is an essential member to the team, even though his communication skills are lacking. Vadim flew with Katerina, whom came from Moscow. Katerina (13 years old) has become the poster-face of the ISEI Russia work with the Russian news following her and her scientific knowledge and praxis. She is to learn as much as possible during our time in Huntsville to help lead a new Moonbuggy construction with Vadim in the future. Our other two team-members come from the German school in Washington D.C. They had not know anyone, nor Ralf, before they began their road trip from D.C. to Huntsville. The last member that will be participating in the challenge is my brother and he will be joining us tomorrow from Minnesota. He is greatly interested in engineering, but has not yet received any technical training and knows no one on the team.

These differences in skill-sets, languages, and culture rest between the ISEI team-members. The goal is that they overcome these political borders and use each other's differences to better reach their goal of scoring high ranks in the race this weekend.

What we see for the students in their normal life is a grand infrastructure that surrounds them where their skills and knowledge are supposed to excel. ISEI teaches them that in order to receive high grades and develop their technical skills, they must not depend entirely on that infrastructure. These things have to be accomplished individually through hard-work, practice, and mindfulness. The Moonbuggy is not put together with an instruction manual, nor with parts that have been pre-designed and pre-cut. The students must make everything from the ground-up. Technical specifications have to be met and sponsors have to be secured. The only limitation they have are themselves. How the team is selected is through self-selection. When students hear about these challenges that they will face as part of an ISEI team, many back-out without trying. What we are left with in Huntsville are only the best.

Today is work on the non-pneumatic wheels. Other parts were found missing and Evgeniy is now in charge of producing them with a special machine at a different workshop space in Huntsville. It will be difficult to manufacture these parts individually, but the students are determined to reach their goal. Ralf taught them how to make the first and now it is up to them to finish the job!

After lunch, Ralf and I left to make some visits around Huntsville. Firstly, we brought Evgeniy to the Technology Institute so that he was able to begin manufacturing the needed pieces. We received a short tour around the center but more awaits us there tomorrow. Following the institute, Ralf and I went to the Space Education Center to drop the Jesco von Puttkamer awards off. We enjoyed a nice conversation with Kat at the institute for a short while. Finally, we made our way to the top of one of the grand hills that surrounds Huntsville to visit with friends of Ralf's. We enjoyed their hospitality greatly and I look forward to seeing them again on Sunday at the Jesco von Puttkamer gathering.

We returned to the workshop at about 6pm to eight finished non-pneumatic wheels with tutorial videos made in Russian, German and English. Ralf was happy to see the work completed and this means more time to enjoy our tours tomorrow and visits around Huntsville. Hopefully Evgeniy will have the other pieces completed soon so that the Moonbuggies can be successfully finished.