Reprinted from from www.siouxcityjournal.com at this link:

Four high school seniors from Northwest Iowa made the long trip back on Tuesday from Gurgaon, India, where they worked to design an orbiting base around the moon.

The annual Asian Regional Space Settlement Design Competition simulates the experience of being on an aerospace engineering team.

“It’s all about communication,” said Jim Christensen, who invited the four students to go with him to South Asia. “The engineering is just a piece of it.”

Endurance and sheer force of will could be another part.

Joe Napierala, a senior at Alta-Aurelia High School, in Alta, Iowa, and his team of about 50 international students worked 22 hours straight, beginning at 10:30 a.m. They had to submit a building proposal by 7 a.m. the following day.

“It’s amazing the things you can accomplish in a group,” he said.

Five companies competed by creating proposals for building in space. The four American high school seniors worked with students from India, Pakistan, China and Thailand.

Christensen, administrative supervisor at Northwest Area Education Agency, said the competition helps students hone skills such as communication, collaboration and innovation.

Jason Schmitt found another benefit from it. He went to competitions in Houston last year and that helped him decide what kind of engineer he’d like to be.

The Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School senior plans to study aerospace engineering in college. But he left India with more than a career direction. He made friends from around the world.

“I’ve been talking to some of them on Facebook since I got back,” he said. “Hopefully, we keep in touch.”

Besides competing, the high school seniors had an opportunity to do a bit of touring, go shopping and see the iconic Taj Mahal, in Agra.

Betsy Ehmcke and Merrill Brady returned to East High School with henna on their hands, a temporary tattoo that reminds them of India and its outdoor markets.

“It was just a fantastic experience,” Ehmcke said.

The girls came up with a creative way to raise money for their trip by holding a competition loosely based on "The Hunger Games." Instead of bows and arrows, students were armed with cans of silly string.

Gamers had to track down their assigned targets, fellow classmates, outside of school and recite a quote from the Disney’s film “Finding Nemo” before covering them with silly string.

Brady and Ehmcke charged students $10 to join the game and raised $900.

The girls haven’t quite paid off the cost of the trip, and Ehmcke’s already thinking about going back.

“The people, they’re just wonderful,” she said. “Every single thing you see is fascinating.”