Press Releases 2009
$69,992 Awarded to University of Idaho Research Team
November 17, 2009
MOSCOW, Idaho – A team of researchers lead by principal investigator, Herbert Hess, submitted their proposal for the NASA Ralph Steckler Research and Technology Development Grant opportunity. The Flywheel Storage for Lunar Colonization proposal was accepted and awarded funding in the amount of $69,992.
A total of 35 proposals were considered for this award and 18 were recommended for funding for this phase of the grant. Phase one will last nine months and will establish the scientific merit of each project. Phase two will last 2 years and could provide a maximum of $250,000 to the four most promising participants of phase one. From there, 2 teams will be chosen to participate in the third phase, in which they will be awarded up to $275,000 for two additional years during which time their previous efforts will be integrated with NASA programs or projects.
University of Idaho’s Herbert Hess, Joseph Law and David Atkinson in partnership with The Boeing Company’s Robert Frampton submitted their solar power energy generation proposal through the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium. If successful, the team will create a flywheel-based energy storage system. The storage system would be capable of high energy density and have the capability to serve in a wide range of mission requirements.
For more information pertaining to NASA’s Steckler Space Grant please visit http://www.nasa.gov or http:.//www.id.spacegrant.org.
University of Idaho Students to Launch NASA Funded Project
September 30, 2009
MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho’s Vandal Atmospheric Science Team (VAST) will launch the second phase of a high altitude balloon project funded by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Saturday,. The launch location is yet to be determined and will depend upon weather conditions that will be unknown until immediately before the launch.
Idaho RISE, which is the student high-altitude scientific balloon program for the state of Idaho is funded by the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC). VAST is the University of Idaho’s chapter of the program. VAST, is continuing their work on a project in which they have constructed an instrument package with the hopes of measuring the stability of a small descent probe under a cross parachute. Information gained from this project has the potential to influence probe design and payloads of future NASA missions.
VAST students will have launched this design twice after this week’s launch. The first phase, a test launch, took place in April. To date, VAST has conducted more than 15 launches, flights, and recoveries, achieving altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet.
VAST is a multidisciplinary project open to students of all class levels and from any discipline. The project provides valuable experience for student participants in the areas of leadership, teamwork, design, communication and more. Many VAST members have presented results at professional scientific conferences, and have participated in summer internships with NASA. NASA now employs several former VAST team members.
The goal of Idaho VAST project is to develop the capability to design, build, test, fly, and recover high-altitude science and engineering instrumentation.
NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Welcomes New Director
September 29, 2009
MOSCOW, Idaho – NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium recently received approval from NASA Headquarters on the appointment of the new ISGC director, Aaron Thomas. The Idaho Space Grant Consortium, funded through the education office at NASA Headquarters, promotes NASA education through research, and public outreach programs and opportunities throughout the state.
Aaron Thomas, currently an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Idaho, received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University and his doctorate from the University of Florida. His research interests include fluid mechanics, gas separations, biological separations, and microfluidics. He is the faculty advisor for AISES as well as an adjunct faculty in the American Indian Studies Program.
“I plan on building on the excellent foundation that has been left by the previous Director and has continued with the current support staff. The ISGC is one of the top
Space Grant programs in the country, and I look to help maintain that status,” explained Thomas, “Two areas that I do plan on improving are the communication among the affiliates and increasing the interest in the programs offered by the ISGC from the affiliates, faculty, and students.”
Under his leadership, the Idaho Space Grant will continue serving as the voice of NASA in Idaho by connecting all NASA-related work in the state through cooperation, communication and collaboration. Thomas also plans to increase the number of participants from underrepresented groups in Idaho Space Grant programs.
Early in his career, Thomas received a research initiation grant from ISGC, one of the many opportunities offered by the consortium. He is looking forward to being on the other end of the Space Grant and having the chance to provide others with the same opportunities.
ROBOTIC OPPORTUNITIES FOR 5-8TH GRADE STUDENTS STILL AVAILABLE IN IDAHO
September 4, 2009
An international LEGO® robotics program is gearing up in Idaho, and is eager to involve more Idaho fifth through eighth grade students in its 2009 program. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), is the national organization responsible for FIRST LEGO® League (FLL), a program that allows teams of children and mentors to demonstrate their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship and sense of community using LEGO® technology and a real-world problem. This year, FLL is transforming transportation in its 2009 “Smart Move” challenge by looking at creative applications of solutions to improve people’s lives in respect to transportation.
FIRST is a national organization founded by Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Idaho ROKS (Robotic Opportunities for K-12 Students), the Idaho FIRST partner, works with FIRST to ensure programs such as FLL are available to Idaho students across the state. Idaho ROKS is a K-12 robotics program facilitated by the University of Idaho Colleges of Agriculture/Life Sciences and Engineering, and the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium. ROKS collaborates with institutions and volunteers across the state to offer FLL annually, along with other related programs such as Idaho TECH, FIRST Robotics and the FIRST Tech Challenge.
FIRST LEGO® League is an international program for 9 to 14 year-old children. Each September, FIRST announces the annual challenge to teams, engaging them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® bricks, motors, gears and software, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program robots to solve real-world challenges. After eight intensive weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. In Idaho, four qualifying FLL tournaments will be conducted in December, with a championship tournament in Pocatello in January 2010. Over 200 teams are anticipated to participate in Idaho this year.
FIRST released the details of its 2009 Challenge on September 3 to kick-off this year’s program, but it is not too late to register a team to participate! Teams of up to 10 students and an adult “coach” (i.e. parent, teacher, other adult) can form a team, and register at gofll.usfirst.org. Grants are also currently available to help with registration and material costs. Don’t delay, however, as registration will close once all team slots have been filled. For more information, contact Idaho ROKS at email@example.com, or visit the FIRST website at usfirst.org.
University of Idaho Students Assist in NASA Lunar Robotics Field Testing
July 9, 2011
BLACKPOINT LAVA FLOW, Ariz. – Equipped with cameras and 3-D laser scanners, NASA robots recently explored the rough terrain of a desert in Arizona while being carefully monitored by two University of Idaho graduate students.
The “K10 Red” and “K10 Black” robots were developed and remotely controlled by NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. The test of the exploration robots occurred between June 14 and 26 at Black Point Lava Flow, which was chosen as the test location due to the wide variety of surfaces. The terrain resembles that of the moon, which will help NASA engineers prepare for future lunar missions.
Armen Dibble and fellow robot observer John Porter are currently serving as fellows of the Idaho Space Grant Robotic Lunar Exploration Program. Porter, a graduate student in computer engineering from Lewiston, and Dibble, a graduate student in mechanical engineering from Moscow, are working for NASA Ames this summer and participated in the field test.
“It was our duty to ensure the robots didn’t get stuck or fall off a cliff,” explained Dibble, “We were in charge of the remote emergency stop as well as watching the vehicle to make sure all of the systems were functioning properly.”
Last month’s field test was a part of the 2009 Desert Research and Technology Studies project. Future plans include two more tests to take place in August and September. For more information on the NASA Ames Simulated Lunar Mission please visit http://lunarscience.nasa.gov/roboticrecon/
15 Idaho Students Receive Internships
May 21, 2009
MOSCOW, ID - Fifteen students from Idaho universities will intern at NASA institutions across the country this summer, working with NASA scientists and participating in arguably some of the world’s coolest projects.
“NASA internships give students the chance to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom in a very tangible, real world environment. It is an excellent learning opportunity,” said Becky Highfill of the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium. The ISGC submits student applications and provides money for travel and other expenses.
Internships at NASA institutions often lead to jobs with NASA after graduation. Idaho interns will have an opportunity to work on a variety of NASA research programs that align with NASA’s current vision to return to the moon and someday send humans to Mars and beyond. This summer ten undergraduate and graduate students from Idaho will intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California. Three graduate students from Idaho have received internships to work at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, while two undergraduate students from Idaho received internships to work at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
NASA interns from Idaho include: Brandy Holmes, John Porter, Armen Dibble, Paul Anderson, Anna Camery, David Eld, Donald Geiger, Timothy Hildebrandt, Tom Nickles, Sean Wagoner and Chris Walker from the University of Idaho. Darien King and Nathan Collingridge from Brigham Young University – Idaho. Mark Johnson from Boise State University and Ellen Judd from the College of Idaho.
Leadore and Genesee Students Place in Mars Rover Challenge
May 21, 2009
MOSCOW, ID- The Martianators, a Leadore, Idaho student team, proved they have what it takes to win at the Idaho TECH: Mars Rover Challenge, Friday, May 1 at the Moscow Junior High School. The Martianators competed against other fifth and sixth grade students, taking second place at the southern preliminary competition that took place on Saturday, April 25, in Twin Falls. The team that is part of Melody Kauer’s class went on to claim first place in the final competition on Friday, May 1!
The Rockets from Genesee Elementary School also placed in the Idaho Teaching Engineering to Children (TECH) Mars Rover Challenge finals. The Rockets took first place in the preliminary competition Friday, and then held firm to claim second place in the final design competition later that day.
To place at Idaho TECH, students had to design a motorized Mars rover out of LEGOsâ that could maneuver between obstacles, climb steep hills and pick up small objects, among other things. Over 350 students competed in the competitions this year.
Students begin to construct their rovers in January each year. They use motors and pneumatic systems to make the rovers move, and pick objects up with a mechanized arm or a scoop. Idaho TECH is a program for fifth and sixth grade students held each year by the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium. The goal of the program is to provide a hands-on science and engineering opportunity for Idaho students.
Final Design Competition Results:
(Friday, May 1, 2009 at Moscow Junior High School, Moscow)
1st Place: The Martianators, Leadore School, Leadore
2nd Place: The Rockets, Genesee Elementary School, Genesse
3rd Place: The Mova Rovas, Southside Elementary School, Cocolalla
Northern Preliminary Design Competition Results:
(Friday, May 1, 2009 at Moscow Junior High School, Moscow)
1st Place: The Rockets, Genesee Elementary School, Genesse
2nd Place: The Marsinators, Grangeville Elementary/Middle School, Grangeville
3rd Place: The Jumping Jelly Beans from Jupiter, Spirit Lake Elementary School, Spirit Lake
3rd Place: Lemonheads, Southside Elementary School, Cocolalla
Southern Preliminary Design Competition Results:
(Saturday, April 25, 2009 at the National Guard Armory, Twin Falls)
1st Place: The Space Dogz, William Thomas Middle School, American Falls
2nd Place: The Martianators, Leadore School, Leadore
3rd Place: The Rambling Robots, Cascade Elementary School, Cascade
University of Idaho Students to Launch NASA Funded Project
April 30, 2011
MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho’s (UI) Senior Design Team launched their NASA Atmosphere Re-Entry Probe project funded by NASA Ames and the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) on Monday, April 27 from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The probe, including electronics, is estimated to cost $3050.
On April 26, UI senior design team members, Brett Bashford, Mark Kinny, Adam Curry, Cody McCallister, Evan Berg, Cliff Murphy, and Eric Larsen, flew to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to meet with their client Marc Murbach, an engineer from NASA Ames. “We will help with last minute preparations and receive a tour of their facilities,” said Brett Bashford, an electrical engineering student from the UI.
The team, comprised of seven UI students majoring in mechanical or electrical engineering, have been working on the design, fabrication, and coding of the probe since mid-October. “After deployment from a Terrier-Orion sounding rocket, our goal is to take pressure, temperature, and acceleration readings between 100km and 33km and hopefully recover the probe from the ocean afterwards by tracking down a signal broadcasted by transmitter,” states Bashford.
“The program is part of a larger NASA Ames flight program called Sub Orbital Aerodynamic Re-Entry Experiment (SOAREX). As a ‘wind-tunnel in the sky’ SOAREX is a means of conducting rapid and inexpensive sub-orbital re-entry experiments in support of novel probe design, flight dynamics, control system development, and instrument and sensor verification,” says Dr. David Atkinson, associate director of the ISGC and project mentor.
“It is of great importance to the exploration program to have the capability of testing a variety of different technologies for future flight application. The advantages of the sounding rocket platform include elimination of crew safety concerns (e.g. STS and ISS) and a rapidity with which new experiments can be incorporated. A very high altitude sounding rocket may provide as much as 40 minutes of microgravity, and atmospheric entry velocities approaching that of earth orbit entry,” concludes Atkinson.
Students Travel to Moscow for Idaho TECH: Mars Rover Challenge
April 29, 2009
MOSCOW, Id–Teams of fifth and sixth grade students will gather at the Moscow Junior High School on May 1, as part of this year’s Idaho Teaching Engineering to Children (TECH) Mars Rover Challenge.
The NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium’s (ISGC) TECH Challenge tests the engineering skills of fifth and sixth grade students. Teams of 4-6 students use Lego®s to create a motorized Mars rover. Each team then tests their rover’s ability to maneuver between obstacles, climb steep hills, and pick up small objects, among other things.
Teams from Athol, Cocolalla, Coeur d’Alene, Cottonwood, Genesee, Grangeville, LaCrosse, Moscow, Rathdrum, Sagle, Spirit Lake, Troy, and Weippe will compete in the North Idaho TECH: Mars Rover Challenge in Moscow.
The top three winners from the Moscow event will compete against finalists from the South Idaho competition later that day.
Idaho TECH is part of the festivities for Idaho Space Week (April 25 – May 2), with the North Idaho and final events serving as the finale of space week activities. Idaho Space Week is an event–declared annually by the Idaho state Governor– to promote and support space-related activities throughout the state of Idaho.
Media representatives are welcome at the event. The best photo opportunities are from 9:30am-11:30 am and 12:30-3 pm when students test their rovers on the different courses.
NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Receives Excellent Evaluation
April 9, 2009
MOSCOW, Idaho – The NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) has received excellent results on the 20th year Space Grant College and Fellowship Program evaluation. The ISGC achieved the top tier in the national evaluation and is considered to be performing at a high level. No program weaknesses or deficiencies were identified for the ISGC.
The ISGC has 22 affiliate offices located throughout the state of Idaho. The excellent result reflects on the active participation and contribution of all the ISGC affiliates. “It is our affiliates that provide the pipeline between our programs and the researchers, the students, and the citizens of Idaho, and it is our affiliates that have made Idaho Space Grant one of the strongest programs in the country,” states Dr. David Atkinson, associate director for the ISGC.
The 20th Year Evaluation was conducted in accordance with the implementing rules and regulations which require evaluation of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program every five years. The excellent evaluation allows the ISGC to be eligible to apply for the next five-year grant cycle.
The NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship Program is a higher education program funded by congress and administered by NASA Headquarters, with programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The objectives of the NASA Space Grant program are to establish in a national network of universities with interests and capabilities in aeronautics, space, and related fields, to encourage cooperative programs between universities, aerospace industry, and local, state, and federal government agencies, to recruit and train students for careers in aerospace sciences, technologies, and allied fields, and to promote a strong science, mathematics, and technology educational base from elementary through university levels.
Astronaut to Carry University of Idaho Flag on Space Shuttle Discovery Mission
March 13, 2009
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – Vandal Pride will reach new heights on March 15, when Astronaut Steven Swanson takes a University of Idaho flag into space on board the Discovery Space Shuttle.
Swanson, a NASA mission specialist, will have the silver and gold University of Idaho flag with him on Sunday, March 15, at 7:43 p.m. EDT when the STS-119 Space Shuttle Discovery is set to launch from Kennedy Space Center.
Steven Swanson will carry the University of Idaho flag on behalf of his nephew Greg Swanson, an electrical engineering graduate student at the University of Idaho. Greg is also a nominee for the NASA International Year of Astronomy Student Ambassador for the state of Idaho. Steven also has a daughter who attended the University of Idaho in 2007-08.
Greg Swanson hopes Steven Swanson will hang the flag and take a picture with it during the flight. The flag will be presented to the president of the University of Idaho, the dean of the College of Engineering and the director of NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium at the Engineering EXPO Dean’s Reception on April 29 at the Best Western University Inn.
“I thought this would be a great way to promote space exploration in our community,” said Greg Swanson, who is currently in Cocoa Beach, Fla., awaiting the launch.
Steven Swanson is the lead extravehicular activity (EVA) crew member and will perform three EVA’s to install the last set of solar arrays for the International Space Station. An EVA is any activity for which a crewmember must go outside the protected “shirtsleeve” environment of the orbiter’s crew cabin.”
For more information on the STS-119 Space Shuttle Discovery Launch or for links to watch the launch live and footage during the mission, visit the International Year of Astronomy Web site at www.IdahoIYA.com.
More Than 80 Students to Converge on Campus for FIRST TECH Challenge Championship Tournament
February 19, 2009
MOSCOW, Idaho – More than 80 high school students from Idaho, Montana, Oregon and British Columbia will test their abilities to build and program robots to solve problems at the FIRST Tech Challenge Championship (FTC) Tournament at the University of Idaho on Saturday, February 21, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Memorial Gym.
The NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC), the University of Idaho College of Engineering and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are Idaho’s partners for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge, a national program that inspires young people to be science and technology leaders. The event is free and open to the public. FTC is a robotics competition in which teams use a kit to build robots. The competition was created for students to be able to use math and science concepts in the real-world. The challenge also builds strong teamwork skills, self-esteem and confidence.
“As the affiliate partner for Idaho with the FIRST organization, the University of Idaho’s Idaho ROKS™ program is excited to bring FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) program to Idaho and to be hosting the event at the University of Idaho,” said Tim Ewers, Idaho ROKS™ Co-Director. “FIRST Tech Challenge is a new high school robotics program that is critical for providing a link between middle school science and engineering programs and higher education.”
The Idaho ROKS™ Program is a collaborative effort between the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC), the University of Idaho College of Engineering, and the University of Idaho College of Agriculture & Life Science 4-H Extension Education programs, developed to support robotics competitions in Idaho. FIRST is a world-wide program designed to help K-12 students discover science and technology.
Two teams from Saturday’s championship tournament will advance to the world championship tournament to be held in Atlanta, Georgia on April 16-18, 2009. “Our primary goal in Idaho ROKS™ is to increase the number of youth matriculating into science and engineering disciplines. FTC is a program that engages youth in authentic science and engineering and helps them develop knowledge, skills, and interest in the science and engineering fields,” concludes Ewers.
NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Receives $50,000 for Robotics Program
February 17, 2009
MOSCOW, IDAHO – Idaho National Laboratory (INL) donated $50,000 to the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) to support the Idaho ROKS™ program, which helps to bring a national LEGO robotics competition to Idaho for K-12 students.
“This gift will help us reach out to more students in Idaho,” says Jean Teasdale, director of the ISGC. “Creating opportunities where science and engineering jump off the pages of a text book, and become fun learning activities for Idaho’s youth is very exciting for us. We are grateful that INL recognizes the value of K-12 programs and has given us this generous donation to benefit the students in Idaho.”
The gift will help with recruiting efforts for new FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics teams throughout the state. The FIRST program is designed to keep students interested in science, technology, engineering and math from kindergarten through high school, which will ultimately increase the number of students studying science and engineering at college and graduate levels.
The Idaho ROKS™ Program is a collaborative effort between the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC), the University of Idaho College of Engineering, and the University of Idaho College of Agriculture & Life Science 4-H Extension Education programs, developed to support robotics competitions in Idaho. FIRST is a world-wide program designed to help K-12 students discover science and technology. The FIRST programs include; Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL) for ages 6-9, FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for ages 9-14, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for high-school aged students. Idaho ROKS™ includes three additional robotics projects – Idaho Tech the Mars Rover Challenge, 4-H Robotics, and the Vandal Robotics Challenge.
On February 21, 2009, the ISGC will be hosting the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) to be held at the University of Idaho’s Memorial Gym. FTC is a robotics competition in which teams use a kit to build robots. The competition was created for students to be able to use math and science concepts in the real-world. The challenge also builds strong teamwork skills, self-esteem and confidence.
“The NASA Idaho Space Grant is dedicated to FIRST and other K-12 programs because when we make learning about science and engineering fun, everyone wins,” Teasdale concludes.