Future Engineers Go To (i)Space


Rhea Rohr, Editor-in-Chief

On Thursday, September 14, Ben Davis and twelve of his first and second year engineering students embarked on a journey; they were going to be his first students ever to go to space – iSpace, that is.

The iSpace is a “multidisciplinary learning community” that is open to the public. In short, there are several rooms that contain multiple different labs, games, and devices to help people learn new skills or just play around. There is a wide range of activities to participate in, such as motion-controlled games, circuits, and even virtual reality headsets. Sahuaro’s engineering class was lucky enough to be able to experience everything hands-on, with plenty of time to try out each station.

I created a pretty sick beat using whatever noise this made

This entire event was coordinated by Lisa Wood-Hromidko from the TUSD Career and Technical Education office. When we first arrived, we were given a tour of the iSpace rooms. We were then separated into two different groups; my group started out in the random experimental lab room. For an hour, we played around with synthesizer circuits and DIY virtual reality goggles that were set on a roller coaster or at the top of a building. I didn’t realize at that moment in time that the phone could not sense our motion, so I tried to walk off the building, and crashed into a table. I believe my favorite part of that room was a motion sensor game controlled exclusively by hands. There were a variety of games that could be played on that program, but I preferred one where we had to pick up blocks and put them on the heads of these weird little robots. Once all of the robots had heads, there was a small dance party. I also quite enjoyed building the synthesizer circuits, though none of them worked perfectly for me. Once I did get them going, they tended to make weird noises that sounded to me like aliens trying to make a connection with our planet. Overall, this room was a hit for me.

The Oculus Rift in action



The next room was where the true fun began. We were given the opportunity to use an Oculus Rift and an HTC Vive headset. As we had limited time, the Oculus Rift was only used to watch a video; there were so many different scenarios, including a mirror with many faces, a dinosaur, and two robots fighting. With the Vive, however, we were allowed to explore the many games it offered. First, we had to go to the whiteboard that was in the virtual room and sign our name. Almost everyone dropped the marker at first because no one was used to trying to hold a fake object. We could also pet the robot dog that was running around, though some people threw markers at it. Once we were done with that, we could start the games. I initially chose an archery shooting game, but I accidentally picked up the virtual bow with the wrong hand, which is what I’m going to say caused my terrible score. One time in third grade, I hit close to the center of a target with a real bow, so I’m pretty skilled at archery if I do say so myself. After I only managed to shoot five people, I moved on to a different game that was basically a 3D Space Invaders game; I don’t mean to brag, but I killed it.

This concluded our field trip to the iSpace center, and I honestly had a blast. As it is open to the public, I highly recommend people check it out. Click here to find out about the iSpace center’s hours and location. If you are given the opportunity to go, do it. It’s definitely worth it.