As I walked into the SCEE seminar hall with crescent moons hanging from the door, the atmosphere changed from scorching heat to ‘sukoon mahowl tey mithey chowl’. The participants were taking their seats in the hall and members of the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) were having the obligatory DP session that precedes most events today.
“Hehe! Oye shirts mil gayi hain tou shokhey hi hogaye hain!”
-Random guy in the audience
The hall was decorated with pictures of spiralling galaxies, flaming meteors, black stars and a very excited Mars Rover. A few cardboard aliens were hogging the stage and a silver peppered lining of space stared up from the stage.
Space Shelter had begun.
The event began with an address from the President of ASCE, Sohail Haroon, who outlined the mission of ASCE and how collaborating with the NSS in SciON would help draw students towards its mission. The mission is to innovate in building shelters on the surface of Mars where mankind might hope to establish bases to live when resources run out on Earth; it sounds a little less ambitious than Interstellar but also more doable.
The event proceeded with a documentary called Mars: The Red Planet. It featured the search for life on Mars and the cultural impact it has had, including those awful “MARS ATTACKS!” movies.
“ASCE representative Sanwal Ali: We’re going to show you a documentary that’s going to be very important for this competition and after that we have a surprise for you! The surprise is a quiz on the documentary and the correct answers will be rewarded!
Either these kids were hungry for the challenge or for the reward.
The quiz included fairly easy questions for those who listened closely to the documentary; as for those who dozed off, they were left staring at those who received chocolates when they answered correctly.
“ASCE representative Sanwal Ali: OK so now for a hard question, what was the name of the meteorite that was analyzed to arrive at the conclusion that there were signs of life on Mars?
Participant 1: (Reading from a paper) AL8411 (at least that’s what I think he said)
Sanwal Ali: You took notes?
Participant 1: Yes
Participant 2: Bhai Jaan yeh notes LMS peh upload kardena”
After this the main event got underway as the participants were brought up to speed on the scenario they would be playing in. If astronauts were to travel to Mars, they would need a shelter that could withstand radiation, extreme temperatures, low gravity and low oxygen. The participants would have to build such a shelter from household items.
“Sanwal Ali: Okay so the astronauts are on Mars. What are they going to do now?
Audience member: Aabaadi Barhao!”
The participants were then briefed on the rules and regulations of the competition as well as the judging criteria and sent off to prepare for the next day; but not before:
“Sanwal Ali: Ok guys before you leave could you all come to the stage for a group photo?
Participants: Haan yeh ki na kaam ki baat!”
Today, Space shelter officially kicked off SciON ’15.
By Yousuf Mehmood