Interdisciplinary Learning

2015 Microgravity University Research Program

The 2015 Microgravity University Research Program relied on a core team of nine students with myself as the team lead. And 10 mentors including 7 faculty members, a Mission Control Specialist at Johnson Space Center, a former astronaut, and a local machinist. We fulfilled 3 formal documents including a proposal, safety document and final report. We also finished 20 hours of community service and outreach including appearing on a PBS science show for kids to talk about our subject matter, student demonstrations for middle and high school students, and a middle school visit to deliver a science based curriculum.

Selected Challenge: Float Sample Grabber

Proposal Title: Zerog-g Operable Interplanetary Delivery Based ERgonomics Grabber (ZOIDBERG)

Proposal Type: Micro-g NExt

Proposal Abstract: The collection and storage of float samples without cross contamination is one of many challenges facing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The proposed designed and manufactured tool will be able to retrieve rock samples with a series of sample collection clamshells attached to a rotating belt positioned on a shaft. The tool will meet all safety requirements and be able to retrieve the samples without compromising the integrity of the surrounding area. Feedback pertaining to the float sample grabber's performance in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) will provide a foundation for future improvements to the design and operation of the device. In the future, NASA may be able to use this tool to collect rock samples during asteroid missions.

Goal: The goal of our project is to determine the most efficient manner in which loosely adhered surface samples on an asteroid might be manually collected and stored with one hand by an astronaut. We hope to observe astronauts practice with and give feedback on our device in microgravity tests, and improve the device for future missions.

Team members and members in the original Apollo 11 mission control room at NASA Johnson Space Center

Stanford University Innovation fellows

As a changemaker trained by some of the best teachers in Stanford d.School on design thinking through the fellow program. I have been exposed to some of the best student minds in this community through a retreat at Stanford and continued access through an online community.

I now employ the tools and strategies of the program in my work, including the design thinking approach to problems (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test), campus landscape canvas (the ability to understand a campus ecosystem and their resources as a whole), and a strong community of innovators and thinkers (over 1,000 people strong, university innovation fellows continue to network and help each other on difficult problems and innovative solutions).

I was hired by Code2040, a company that matches under-served computer science to hi-tech internships to deliver two design thinking workshops to their students. With my colleague Tommy, we facilitated important discussions and activities that brought the design thinking framework to these students in a relate-able way.

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Space Broncos

In the second iteration of Space Broncos during the 2015-2016 school year I founded a student organization with six friends. Our goal was to help other students, no matter what their major was to participate in space science and research. We recruited about 40 students in our first semester as a club, from very different majors including English, Marketing, Mechanical, Material Science and Biology.

We were mentored by two former astronauts, Barbara Morgan and Steve Swanson. We decided that we would create a virtual reality simulation to Mars which we would develop and then market.

We sought and recieved funding for viritual reality headsets and a gaming chair that we could take to events. We split our 40-person club membership in half with a few students working on the virtual relaity development, others completing research and also outreach planning. Within two semesters we gave a capstone presentation on stage and demonstrated our virtual reality project to 2,000 people at various STEM fairs, conferences and meetings.