From space launches to telerobotic challenges, Norwich engineering students pushed their skills at a number of NASA summer programs.
David Crawford School of Engineering
October 22, 2014
Norwich engineering students participated in a variety of challenging NASA competitions, internships and space launches over the summer. Here’s a brief roundup of their endeavors:
A team of mechanical engineering students was selected as one of fourteen finalists in the 2014 NASA/NIA Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition. The contest provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate and graduate engineering students to tackle challenges tied to NASA’s vision for human space exploration. Invited to participate in the RASC-AL forum in June at Coca Beach, Fla., the Norwich team comprised recent graduates Peter Gill, Savanah Medlar, Matthew Roberts and Ethan Hanks. Gill and Medlar along with faculty advisor Danner Friend represented the Norwich team in Florida at the RASC-AL forum. The group selected the tele-operated robot challenge, producing a creative design concept for a free-flying robotic inspection and repair vehicle that could repair torn solar panels. “The Norwich team stood out among all other teams with their detailed physical prototype that was built using 3D printing technology,” Friend said.
LARSS Program Internship
Mechanical engineering senior Spencer Nath worked over the summer as a NASA intern for the Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholars (LARSS) Program in Hampton, Va. He was assigned to the Advanced Sensing and Optical Measurement Branch, where he worked on a project to precisely measure the sound created by the undercarriage of an aircraft in landing configuration. The ultimate goal was to compare measurements before and after noise-reduction modifications were implemented. He worked with a team of engineers using optics and additive manufacturing technologies to create a custom array of super-powered LEDs capable of highlighting the aircraft (equipped with reflective materials) flying some 400 feet in the air.
Sounding rocket launch during RockOn Workshop at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility
Electrical and computer engineering senior Nathan Tong attended the RockOn Workshop sponsored by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium and hosted at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The workshop allows student teams to build rocket payloads from a kit that is later mounted and launched on a sounding rocket. The payload kit included an Arduino microcontroller acting as the central processor, a Geiger counter and an assortment of accelerometers and environmental sensors. The data collected during the launch allowed the students to study the physical effects of the launch, the rotation of the rocket, the radiation levels (which spiked when the rocket cleared the atmosphere) and the length of time the rocket was in space. “Although we were one of many teams with similar payloads on the rocket,” Tong said, “it was a great experience and a good program for Norwich students to consider in the future.”
Both Nath and Tong received support from the Vermont Space Grant Consortium and presented the results of their experiences at a consortium awards ceremony and reception held on October 8 at the University of Vermont.
State space grant consortiums like Vermont and Colorado’s are part of a national space grant program funded by NASA linking 850 colleges and universities. The program promotes STEM education and provides avenues for students to participate in NASA-related aeronautical and space program research.