I’ve been fortunate enough to see some pretty cool things and meet some fairly high-profile people during my brief career. I’ve been inside the White House, interviewed various sports stars and have received “free” admission (as long as I was working) into many different sporting events.
Those are some of the perks that accompany the grueling hours and relatively low pay that comes along with working in the media. All of us at University News could probably share some stories about things they were able to see and do that would’ve been otherwise impossible without a press pass.
I have to say, however, that an event I covered this week at Emma Sherman Elementary School in Henrietta ranks right up there as one of my all-time favorite assignments.
There were no celebrities in the room. There was no outrageous admission fee. Instead, I was in a classroom surrounded by a bunch of fifth-graders. And I loved every second if it.
Students from the RIT Amateur Radio Club, Adam Gutterman, Rashmi Shah and Matt Antonio, joined one of their advisors, Jim Stefano, to help the Sherman students contact Flight Engineer Sunita Williams aboard the International Space Station, as it soared overhead at 17,500 miles per hour, via amateur (ham) radio.
There was a sense of excitement in the room throughout the morning, the type of buzz that can only be created by the wonder that is space travel—something most of us have only dreamt of experiencing. And when contact was finally made with the space station, at 9:38 a.m. EST, the next eight minutes did not disappoint.
The students asked great questions and Williams gave thoughtful answers. The excitement was due to much more than that, however. The fact that those students were able to communicate with someone in space, simply using a radio and an antenna, was just awesome.
And so many different people worked together to make it happen: members of the Rochester Amateur Radio Association, the RIT Amateur Radio Club and the faculty, staff and students at Sherman. The event was something nobody in the room, especially the students, would soon forget.
Gutterman, the president of RIT’s Amateur Radio Club, agreed: “This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done with ham radio,” he says. “As a kid, I used to dream of going into space, but I always kind of knew I would never get there. But today, it’s really a thrill knowing that we were able to contact the International Space Station.”
The event received widespread media coverage. It was featured on the front of the Democrat and Chronicle local section and the front page of the Henrietta Post. Stories also ran on WHAM-13, WHEC-TV Channel 10 and RNews.
While the coverage was great, nothing could duplicate actually being in the room. However, our multimedia ventures at University News have come close! If you’re interested in listening to the Q&A, visit the University News home page and click on “Latest Podcasts.” Let me know what you think!