As part of a NASA design competition, students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in March completed a nine-month campaign to design a conceptual mission to Mars, including building rover technology and firing using resources provided by the International Space Station. This year, a team of 24 students from Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach, Prescott, Worldwide and Singapore campuses are back – this time orchestrating a human mission to Ceres, a dwarf planet representing the largest object in the Main Belt. of asteroids between orbits. of Mars and Jupiter.
Watch a recap of the Embry-Riddle 2019 project submission, from the MEAGLE team.
According to Dr. Davide Conte, assistant professor of aerospace engineering and faculty director at the Prescott campus, the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (or RASC-AL) competition gives students the opportunity to contribute to real-life space missions, including the crewed return of the United States to the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program.
“The experience that students get by applying such concepts to a NASA-sponsored mission is far more than what is done in a traditional classroom environment,” Conte said. “This is one of the few Embry-Riddle projects that spans all campuses. “
The introduction of cross-campus collaboration began in 2019, with teams of students coming together through Slack to share ideas and research findings. According to Professor Claudia Ehringer-Lucas, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Fundamentals of Engineering and head of the Daytona Beach campus team, this element of the program is critical in preparing students for their future careers.
“Much of the engineering today is done remotely,” she said. “Collaborating across the country or the world requires skills and understanding to overcome challenges related to time zones, technology, and working with people from diverse backgrounds. This type of project is therefore essential to help students develop these skills as early as possible.
I joined in the hope that this proves my passion and aspiration to challenge myself and be involved in all aspects of space systems. As Eagles, we wouldn’t be participating in Embry-Riddle if we weren’t determined to be the best we can be.
Senior World Engineering Campus Katherine O’Hara agreed, adding that she was happy to be able to collaborate with peers outside of her department, college and geographic area.
“I hope that my participation in the RASC-AL competition will allow me to demonstrate my ability to apply what I have learned in my study program for future employers,” she said.
Students from each campus team are selected through an application process that takes into account the GPA and past experience, but study programs are not limited. Students of various disciplines and academic levels – first year doctoral students. candidates – are represented in the extracurricular cohort.
“We have received very positive feedback regarding student participation, especially because students are continually asked about this experience during internship and job interviews,” Conte said. “Students learn to communicate with each other technically, to write reports and to coordinate in a manner similar to that of space agencies that span multiple states, countries and continents.”
“This project offers students the opportunity to apply the basics of space missions in new and innovative ways, thinking and imagining beyond what they have been taught,” added Ehringer-Lucas. “It’s incredibly powerful for these students because these are some of the most useful skills they will learn while they are in school.”
Through the program, students gain experience in systems engineering, space systems – including thermal control, life sustaining, and power – trajectory design and optimization, and instrumentation. scientist.
The former Conte teams qualified for the RASC-AL Finals in 2013 and 2016. Ehringer-Lucas led an entirely new Eagle team until the final in 2017. The Embry-Riddle 2021 team will have until March to submit his technical proposal and, if it goes to the next round, he will present to a panel of NASA and other industry judges in June, in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
“If the students are successful in this competition, the final step is to present a NASA conference, which is attended by representatives and recruiters from large companies in the industry,” said Ehringer-Lucas. “This allows students to train and better prepare for this type of work, and also allows them to acquire critical contacts and potential jobs within the industry.”
For Amber Scarbrough senior in software engineering, a student team leader at the Prescott campus who dreams of someday working for SpaceX, the network component has already led to job interviews with Honeywell Aerospace, Collins Aerospace, Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin. .
“I joined in the hope that this proves my passion and aspiration to challenge myself and be involved in all aspects of space systems,” she said. “As Eagles, we wouldn’t be participating in Embry-Riddle if we weren’t determined to be the best we can be. The school has a respectable reputation for training some of the best engineers, pilots and professionals in science.
Payce Hooker junior in engineering physics, student team leader at the Daytona Beach campus, reinforced this point, adding that the competition prepares him and his teammates to collaborate with others to achieve a common goal.
“For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to work for NASA,” he said. “Entering a NASA competition should help me stand out when I apply. ”
For teachers, the real reward is helping students translate what they have learned in the classroom into concrete application.
“Watching students turn an idea from brainstorming pieces into a fully developed concept is incredibly exciting,” said Ehringer-Lucas. “This work to understand and solve open problems without a clear and defined single solution, this is really the raison d’être of engineering. “
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