Optimus Prime and Megatron: Two towering titans in America’s smallest state, Rhode Island. Well, let me be more specific, Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, the voice actors responsible for helping make these Transformers so iconic were special guests at Hasbro’s first-ever HASCON.

During the September 9 panel, PETER AND FRANK SOUND OFF: The Voices of Optimus Prime & Megatron!, the two talents had a chance to reminisce, talk Transformers and get a rise out of each other (at one point, they got into a dog-barking match).

Peter Cullen, Ben Montana, marketing director for Transformers, and Frank Welker

But it was at the end of the panel that Cullen, Optimus Prime’s human alter ego, got to talk about a program near to his heart: The Optimus Prime Spinoff Promotion & Research Challenge, or OPSARC. Overseen by NASA and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, the contest asks students to take NASA technologies and develop new uses for them.

Students in grades 3-12 are asked to “be the spark,” transform these these technologies and make them into something… more than meets the eye (see what they did there?).

For Cullen, it’s an honor to be associated with the Goddard Space Center and its fine people–one of which, Darryl Mitchell, assistant chief, strategic partnerships office, Cullen pointed out in the audience. And, as it turns out, OPSARC allows him to take part in something he might have had more involvement in had he not gone into showbiz.

“I was captivated by space technology, exploration,” Cullen said. “I just said, boy, I was in the wrong career, I was a young actor, I said, if I hadn’t wasted my time, I could have been an astronaut or involved in space.”

Cullen has fallen in love with the kids he’s had a chance to work with and highlighted their intense love of science.

“They’re bright, smart–really bright, smart kids with great personalities,” Cullen said.

During the contest, students create a Glogster Multimedia Poster, which combines text, imagery and videos, according to OPSARC’s website. Mitchell and his team then review the submissions and announce a winner.

OPSARC 2018 will roll out in October, so head to its website to learn more about this program and how to become involved.“You’d be doing yourself a great favor,” Cullen said.

Do you really want to defy Optimus Prime? Didn’t think so.