North Carolina Space Grant funds student research projects
What did you do this summer?
A select group of Appalachian State University students participated in research funded by the NASA-sponsored N.C. Space Grant consortium to help solve some of today's most relevant science issues.
In the past four years, Appalachian has received nearly $400,000 from N.C. Space Grant consortium to support research associated with aeronautics and space-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, much of it taking place during the summer.
This year's funds supported the work of 12 Appalachian students and three faculty members.
The students' projects ranged from solar energy testing to air quality monitoring, solar panel and fuel cell development and lunar dust mitigation.
"The highest level of teaching that our faculty do is to get students deeply involved in their studies outside the classroom through such activities as undergraduate and graduate research," said Anthony G. Calamai, dean of Appalachian's College of Arts and Sciences and campus director of the grant program. "Our retention with these students is high and they tend to outperform students who don't take advantage of such opportunities. Once they get into research, they get hooked, stay in the STEM disciplines, and typically do better following graduation."
"This is our fourth year of funding from N.C. Space Grant, and every year we've been ranked No. 3 in terms of student proposal success and we've had the highest ranked faculty proposals in the New Investigations Program for two of those years. That speaks volumes, given the competition includes schools like Duke University, N.C. State University and UNC Chapel Hill," Calamai said.
N.C. Space Grant is a consortium of 11 academic institutions that conducts programs designed to equip the current and future aeronautics and space-science workforce in North Carolina.
N.C. Space Grant receives its primary funding from NASA, but also partners with industry, non-profit organizations, and state government agencies to fund opportunities for students and faculty to engage in hands-on aeronautical and space-related research.
NASA awarded $785,000 to the N.C. Space Grant this year, which was distributed across the consortium and supported 33 faculty and 62 graduate and undergraduate students. All the funding is awarded in response to competitive proposals from the students and faculty. The funding supports research, higher education course development, K-12 professional development, and public outreach throughout the state.
Member institutions are Appalachian, Duke University, Elizabeth City State University, N.C. A&T State University, N.C. Central University, N.C. State University, UNC Asheville, UNC Charlotte, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Pembroke and Winston-Salem State University.
Research: Lunar dust mitigation
"It's a great feeling to know that things you have worked on will directly assist the people and machines that explore space in the future," said Nathanael Cox, one of two students who spent their summers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center building and testing electrodynamic screens to keep dust off space equipment. "The NASA scientists gave us a lot of responsibility in our work and freedom to try different approaches to all of the problems that can arise. I think the most beneficial thing is seeing how the things you've learned about in class apply to real situations."