Space Apps Challenge a huge success for inaugural Huntsville appearance

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Problem solvers of all levels came together Sunday for the second and final day of a global competition that combines space, with technology and software engineering.

The Space Apps Challenge is a world-wide NASA event that puts competitors into teams.

"To develop software tools that make it easier to use that data for different operations, like notifying emergency management that the area has updated images of a flood," explained Mark Becnel.

Becnel is one of the coordinators of the event. This weekend Huntsville held its first Space Apps Challenge with great success, and he said the 32 hour challenge is awesome to watch.

Some teams even spent the night, and Becnel thinks their dedication will pay off.

"The results that are coming out of this are incredible. We think we're going to have some of the champion teams of the whole world because these will go up to a global competition," he said.

The challenge is open to anyone, and Becnel said like most NASA projects, it bridges all age gaps.

"One of my friends is here that's competing, and she's a spacecraft designer.  To see her shoulder to shoulder with an upcoming student is thrilling," he said.

One of those students is ninth grader Amiaa Jackson.

"I came here to gain knowledge and learn with peers rather than a teacher working with me. I learn better with students my age or around my age than people who are older than me and already understand everything," she explained.

Jackson said she didn't really know much about computers before she came. She just wanted to learn. So next time, for those interested but unsure, she has some advice.

"Just do it, it's fun. No one's judging you because everyone's trying to work on themselves," she said.

Huntsville STEAM Works hosted the challenge in their new space. Founder Mike Murdock said they hope to hold more events like this.

"The work they're doing here today is right up our alley. That's the kind of thing that we want people in Huntsville to get excited about," he said.