AME Senior Christine Greve was recently chosen as a recipient of the Astronaut Foundation Scholarship. This foundation was created by the Mercury 7 Astronauts and their families to provide merit-based scholarships to the best and brightest university students who excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The prestigious Astronaut Scholarship is known nationwide for being among the largest monetary scholarships awarded to undergraduate STEM students. Candidates for the scholarship must be nominated by their university professors and must exhibit leadership, imagination and exceptional performance in STEM.

Christine is a senior at the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma pursuing her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and a minor in Spanish language.

Living in Alabama, Christine grew up around the space industry and had always had a love for it, but it wasn’t until her sophomore year of college when she realized her love of the space industry could also be turned into a career.

“I was looking at the different disciplines of engineering one morning when I realized that the college offered aerospace engineering,” said Christine. “The word ‘aerospace’ caught my attention, causing me to talk to one of the professors. About an hour after the conversation, I realized that I could actually pursue a job in the space industry and I was sold.”

As a selected recipient of the Astronaut Foundation Scholarship, it is no surprise that Christine has the credentials to back it up. She is a National Merit Scholar and has been on the University President’s Honor Roll, University’s Deans Honor Roll and the Gallogly College of Engineering Dean’s Honor Roll. In addition, she is a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Christine is a member of OU’s Chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a member of Crimson Skies Design Build Fly.

Last summer, Christine interned at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where she characterized components of a propellant feed system through test design, data acquisition and data analysis. Since January 2016, Christine has continued her work with an independent study program through the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. During her ongoing independent study, she has been designing an attitude control system for cube satellites using pulsed plasma thrusters, modeling the satellite using SolidWorks for technical presentations, and communicating with professionals to better design a test satellite for optimal results.

As you may expect, Christine plans to work in the space industry after graduation in May 2017, and she also hopes to earn her graduate degree while continuing her research in the field of in-space propulsion.

“For my career, I see myself focusing on either electric or nuclear propulsion,”  said Christine. “I want to work towards the advancement of in-space propulsion for manned spacecraft to make interstellar travel an achievable goal in my lifetime. I want to offer new opportunities in spaceflight to help inspire younger generations to continue exploring the stars. I want to rekindle the flame that enabled the incredible engineering of the Apollo missions and that held the world captive as man first stepped onto the moon.”

Christine has big dreams. We think with her leadership, imagination and exceptional performance in STEM, she can achieve it.

Congratulations, Christine! We are proud of your accomplishments thus far, and we look forward to see what this year holds for you as the recipient of the Astronaut Foundation Scholarship!

To learn more about the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, click here.

David Miller’s Space Robotics Class recently tested their balloon flight. Most high altitude balloons spin uncontrollably. This project used two wings to control the yaw of the payload.

The camera pointed in a fixed direction for two minutes. It would then spin clockwise for 15 seconds, stabilize again for 2 minutes, and then spin counterclockwise for 15 seconds. This repeated for the 200 minute ascent. The balloon popped at about 90,000 feet and the payload returned using a one meter parachute. Yaw control terminated when the payload had dropped 10,000 feet below the max altitude. The payload also contained, pressure, temperature, humidity and UV sensors. The camera looked at the squeeze toy and art model of an astronaut helmet in the foreground. Most of the ascent is shown at 20 times the original speed. Stability can be observed by seeing the sun highlights in the eyes. They are steady for about six seconds, and then spin clockwise or counterclockwise for one second (15 seconds in real-time) as the payload does a spin. The highlights hold steady for another six seconds.

Sooner Racing Team (SRT) recently attended Formula SAE® Lincoln. The competition took place in Lincoln, Nebraska hosting 80 teams. Out of those 80 teams, SRT finished 18th overall. In addition to their overall finish, they placed 16th in endurance and received 3rd place in fuel efficiency. With their 3rd place finish, SRT brought home a trophy for the first time in several years!

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Formula SAE® is a student design competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The concept behind Formula SAE® is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style race car. The prototype race car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item. The target marketing group for the race car is the non-professional weekend autocross racer. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is both to ensure onsite event operations and promote problem solving.

Congratulations, Sooner Racing Team! We are proud of your hard work and performance!

Sooner Rover Team recently took home the gold at the 6th Annual RASC-AL Robo-Ops Challenge sponsored by NASA. Not only did the Sooner Rover Team win the national competition, they set records, beating the standing rock yard record by over 200%. The team finished with a final score of 132. The second place team trailed behind with a score of 48.

The Robo-Ops Challenge took place at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The selected student teams had to design life-sized rovers that could move and climb through various terrain, collect rock samples and store them, and navigate through the rock yard all while being controlled remotely from each team’s home university with real-time video feeds from the rovers’ cameras. Teams had one hour to collect and secure the rock samples along with bonus challenges. In addition to the rock yard challenge, teams also had to present a technical paper, a poster and carry out a public outreach program.

Among the eight teams at the competition, Sooner Rover Team stood out from the beginning with their unique design. Rovie McRoverface (the rover’s given name) was modeled after a 1980’s Russian lunar rover featuring a spine, six cone-shaped wheels and a robotic arm. This allowed the rover to bend and travel through various terrain at the competition more easily. Clearly, the unique design paid off.

Rovie McRoverface collected all 26 rock samples and completed all four bonus challenges flawlessly. The team’s score was recorded on the scoreboard by NASA followed with a “WOW.” But, seriously.

“I felt a little like I was dreaming that the rover was performing so well,” said Dane Schoelen, Sooner Rover Team Project Lead. “When mission control successfully completed the contingencies task through amazing teamwork and improvisation, I felt like there was no way I wasn’t dreaming. It is satisfying that after all of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating our rover, we were able to put on an outstanding performance.”

The team is made up of all Gallogly College of Engineering students and advised by AME Professor David Miller, Ph.D. The team members at mission control were Bill Doyle, Brent Wolf, Alex Borgerding, Jacob Jordan, Oskar Paredes, Ashley Findley, Janella Clary, Matthew Solcher and Aaron Condreay, and the members who went to competition were Nathan Justus, Dane Schoelen and Kevin Cotrone.

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The team won first place, broke and set records and brought home a $6,000 prize that they hope will go towards next year’s rover. It is safe to say the team will be set with experienced members as Nathan Justus was the only senior. He will start his career at NASA in Houston as an operations engineer at mission control for the International Space Station.

“I cannot emphasize enough how hard our team worked to make sure that we were prepared for that day. Our performance and the recognition we got from NASA, NIA, and the other teams made all of that work worth it,” said Nathan Justus, Sooner Rover Team Chief Engineer. “Of course, the project had merit of its own and the learning process was substantial, but whatever, it feels good to have DESTROYED and earned that with blood and mind power.”

Congratulations, Sooner Rover Team! We are so proud of your hard work and success!

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