Some Serious Star Trek Fan Nerd Food

The following article is in reply to this post along with pictures found here.

Here’s some serious nerd food for you:

I didn’t actually go to the school in question, but I went to a school near there during my elementary years. We went on a field trip to their school to play this Star Trek simulator and there was actually plenty more going on other than just that one spaceship. There was a whole wing of the school dedicated to this program.

There were multiple rooms, corridors, balconies, computers, Star Trek set decorations. I think we even got shirts with the trademark badge. Although it was obvious that the computer teacher who made the program possible was simply just a huge Trekkie, there was this whole “team work, every person matters” lesson incorporated into it.

This game for the mid-90s was extremely sophisticated. There was about thirty of us kids and we were all assigned jobs. There was the captain, pilots, maintenance — checking that the hull and air pressure were secure, security — checking for enemy ships, and the lists goes on.

We all had our own computers and headsets. There was something like a fifteen minute recording for each job to run you through what your tasks were, and there was a lot of number-crunching and talking to your team and giving them info to calculate. And it all had a very important purpose I came to find out ;).

I can’t see the whole system being solely programmed by some lonesome software programmer or the computer teacher. Also, there must have been something licensed officially, because there was actual simulated footage and actors and so on. Think Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios, where characters talk to you and you’re flying and there’s obstacles and what not.

Think Fable or other choice-driven games. There were times where something like a Romulan Commander would begin communicating with the captain and out of us kids, we had to decide whether to agree to this treaty or attack or something to that effect and that would have its separate consequences and outcomes.

Anyways, being the little rebel that I was, never liking to conform, not being a team player (that’s why I’m a freelancer), I was always a “doing what I wasn’t suppose to” kid (thank goodness for that). As soon as the game started I got up and left my station (didn’t like my job anyways) and started exploring and playing my own game in my own little world.

I definitely wanted to checkout the cockpit (I thought I should have been captain of course). Some of the other kids didn’t like what I was doing and told me to sit back down (people always had a problem with me, but it never seemed to phase me). I was a little prankster, so I started making things up to tell to the other kids trying to down our ship and screw everything up. I thought it was pretty funny, but wasn’t successful, at least not that way…

However, when we eventually did lose, the teacher printed out all the stats to pinpoint what went wrong, he started speaking:

For the most part everyone did very well…

Some kids starting speaking out:

Then why did we lose!?

He began again:

…I’m getting to that. It appears that just one person really didn’t do their job at all… where’s Bryan? Bryan Hadaway?

At that time everyone gave me this stare of death, including the other kids, our teachers that chaperoned, and the teachers of this other school as I was smirking like the little brat I was trying to contain my laughter.

Checkout the Space Center project’s official website here.

  • Emrix

    Actually, the Programming in those simulators were programmed by a team of people that worked there. They weren’t bought from a 3rd party. They were created specifically for that purpose. Even now, the Space Center creates it’s own special effects and simulator controls. We now are expanded to 5 different ships.

  • You work there? Is there any monetization of the whole project or is it primarily an educational program paid for by tax payers/the city?

    Interesting. I’d love to learn more. Was my recollection of how the whole thing works fairly accurate?

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Emrix

    Yes, I act, program, and fly some of those simulators.

    The whole program is self funded. We received grants every so often from various sources. We are included in the Alpine School district however we don’t receive any funding from them.

    Yes, your recollection of the experience was accurate. It has changed a little bit since you’ve been there. Since you’ve been there, we’ve added 2 new simulators making a total of 5 Space Simulators, each unique in design, and story.

    Come along for another experience. Guaranteed it’ll be fun.

  • Wow, better late that never I guess ;). Still so many questions.

    Is there an official website for the project?

    Can people pay to experience the ride or is it strictly educational?

    Something like this would be perfect at Universal Studios. Have you ever approached a theme park with the ride idea?

    Do you pay Paramount licensing fees for copyrighted materials or is this strictly a freelance endeavor?

    Are you also a science teacher by chance or strictly a programmer? What coding languages is the ride programmed with?

    Well, that’s enough brain-picking for now.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Emrix

    Yes there is a website. Go to http://www.spacecamputah.org/

    We do all sorts of programs. We do school field trips, private parties, 5 hour missions, camps, classes, and Starlab experiences.

    Amazingly enough, hardly any of our simulated experience is automated. It’s usually 1, 2 or 3 people in the Control Room operating the sounds, visuals, controls, etc. that create the entire experience. Some missions include actors that go up as aliens or space pirates.

    We don’t pay any licensing fees. To the extent of my knowledge, because we are a part of a school district, we are able to use whatever video footage / ship designs we choose.

    I am currently a Senior in High School. The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center is run primarily by high school and college students from around Utah.

    In the very early days, the Center used Hypercard, one of Apple’s earliest programming languages. That is still being used on the Voyager simulator. When time and technology progressed, we moved to a predecessor of Hypercard called Runtime Revolution, or Live Code. The Magellan, Odyssey, and Galileo use Revolution. We are currently moving into Cocoa, another of Apple’s programming languages. The Phoenix is using Cocoa. We plan to do much more with Cocoa, i.e.: DMX lighting control, Phidget Boards, and iPads.

    Keep the questions rolling. I’m excited to tell you more about it.

  • Excellent, thanks for following up. I’ll go ahead and post the link in the article itself so readers can check it out for themselves. And I’ll take a stroll down memory lane myself.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Emrix

    There are thousands of kids that come every week. I personally haven’t heard of any story as unique as yours, however there are some missions that do fail all because one kid didn’t to their job.