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Two student teams from the UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have been selected to participate in the NASA MINDS design event, which invites college students to design and build innovative technologies for the Artemis mission.

Each team will receive $1,500 in funding and will be led by an MAE student under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The team projects will be reviewed by a panel of judges in April and the top team will receive a prize of $5,000.

“We’re all over the moon,” said aerospace engineering student Dylan Lyon, who will serve as one of the team leaders. “We worked diligently just to make a thorough proposal for MINDS. I think the team has put in an enormous effort for all of our sponsors, and we are excited to present in April.”

Lyon’s team will work with Associate Instructor Kurt Stresau to build a prototype 3D printer that can function in microgravity. Their printer will use resin ink rather than thermoplastic ink, so that a wide array of functional materials can be printed in space, no matter what the mission demands.

Aerospace engineering student Luiz Sotomayor Garcia will also serve a team leader, under the tutelage of Professor Seetha Raghavan. Their team will study the properties of lunar regolith, the layer of surface debris on the moon that’s comprised of soil and rock fragments. Its properties can vary depending where it’s located, so their research can help determine the best locations for extraction. 

“Lunar regolith, being the primary resource encountered on the lunar surface, is of interest for structural applications,” Garcia said. “Regolith’s optical properties and their fluctuation with extraction location will therefore be studied, helping to determine which extraction location is ideal for a given structural application of interest.”

MINDS stands for Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Innovative New Designs for Space. NASA considers the event to be more of a hands-on learning experience than a competition. The student teams are allowed to work on the technology of their choosing, provided it pertains to the Artemis mission. Only Minority Serving Institutions are eligible to participate.

The MAE team that participated in 2021 took home two awards for UCF. Check back in April to see how our 2022 student teams did.