Dallas High School Wins 1st Place at NASA’s 30th Human Exploration Rover Challenge

After winning the NASA challenge in 2022—and snagging second last year—Dallas' Parish Episcopal School returned to first-place glory recently with its human-powered, potentially Mars-conquering rover.

Parish Episcopal School is on a roll. 

Last week, a team from the Dallas private school won first place in the high school division of NASA’s 30th Human Exploration Rover Challenge. The annual engineering competition held its concluding event April 19 and 20 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

It was the second time in three years that Parish Episcopal has won the NASA challenge. The school won first place in 2022 and came in second in the competition last year. Parish added even more to its glory for 2024 by also winning the challenge’s Project Review Award.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville was the winner in the challenge’s college/university division.

Parish Episcopal’s team had the school’s best race result ever at the 2024 NASA challenge. [Photo PES Instagram]

600-plus students from 72 teams took part in the NASA challenge

More than 600 students with 72 teams from around the world participated in the 2024 NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC), including 42 colleges and universities and 30 high schools from 24 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 13 nations.

Teams were awarded points based on navigating a half-mile obstacle course, conducting “mission-specific task challenges,” and completing multiple safety and design reviews with NASA engineers. 

“This student design challenge encourages the next generation of scientists and engineers to engage in the design process by providing innovative concepts and unique perspectives,” Vemitra Alexander, HERC activity lead for NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement at Marshall, said in a statement. “While celebrating the 30th anniversary of the challenge, HERC also continues NASA’s legacy of providing valuable experiences to students who may be responsible for planning future space missions including crewed missions to other worlds.”

Parish Episcopal School’s NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge team is celebrated back home for their 2024 first-place win. [Video still: PES Instagram]

Part of a NASA program focused on Mars and the Moon

HERC is one of NASA’s eight Artemis Student Challenges. The Artemis program seeks to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, while establishing a long-term presence for science and exploration. NASA uses challenges like this one “to encourage students to pursue degrees and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

Since the challenge began in 1994, more than 15,000 students have rolled their rovers across obstacle-strewn terrain. Many of those former students now work at NASA or within the aerospace industry, according to a NASA statement.

You can see an Instagram video of the Parish Episcopal team’s school celebration promenade here.

And you can read more about how Parish Episcopal keeps turning out engineering victories by reading our 2022 story on their last NASA win.

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