Southwestern Community College’s Space Apps Challenge, a NASA innovation program, will give participants a chance to solve the biggest problems on earth and beyond.

Over three days, Oct. 18-20, students will work in teams with mentors to come up with creative solutions for real world problems on Earth and in space. The Learning Center at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute is providing mentors, but other local STEM professionals are invited to work with teams.

Presentations of challenge solutions will be on Sunday, Oct. 20, and will be open to the public. Two teams will advance to the international level.

Space Apps introduces problem-solvers worldwide to NASA’s free and open data. By using NASA data to solve each year’s challenges, Space Apps teams learn to share in the creation and application of the knowledge that results.

This year’s challenge categories include: “Earth’s Oceans,” “Our Moon,” “Planets Near and Far,” “To the Stars!” and “Living in our World.”

Bronson Messer, a computational astrophysicist and faculty member at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, will be this year’s guest speaker.

This is an international event happening simultaneously in more than 200 cities worldwide. There are no other cities participating in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia or Tennessee.

Space Apps welcomes participants of all ages. Participants under 13 must have a parent or guardian register for them. The parent or guardian will need to attend the entire event. There is no fee to participate.

For more information on SCC’s Space Apps Challenge visit

To collaborate with the event as a regional business, join as a judge or provide sponsorship for food, contact Randi Neff, STEM Collaborative Project Coordinator, at or 339-4357.