HAMPTON, Va. -- A contest sponsored by NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) is challenging university students to think about what sorts of conditions astronauts will face when we return to the moon, then design projects that may become part of actual lunar exploration.
The 2009 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage or RASC-AL competition is aimed at undergraduate and graduate engineering students.
"As NASA faces the challenges of going back to the moon, it's important to stimulate the creativity of the next generation of engineers," said Pat Troutman, senior systems analyst at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. "The RASC-AL contest gives engineering students a unique opportunity to combine their academic studies with real life learning and come up with design solutions."
Student teams must submit a summary of and an outreach plan for their proposed projects by November 28. Their work must be based on one of four themes: outpost to settlement, initial lunar outpost, bringing the world along with virtual exploration and novel approaches to increase sample return from the moon. The RASC-AL Steering Committee of NASA and industry experts will evaluate the proposals and select as many as 10 undergraduate and five graduate teams to compete against each other at a forum next June in Florida.
"NIA is excited to collaborate with NASA on the RASC-AL design competition," said Dr. Robert Lindberg, NIA president and executive director. "Students will gain valuable experience working in a team environment and presenting their project to peers, industry experts and NASA."
The teams selected are expected to submit a written report, prepare a poster and give an oral presentation at the RASC-AL forum. The steering committee will score the students' work and award first and second prizes in undergraduate and graduate categories. To cover costs of travel, registration and incidentals each team will receive $5,875.
The June forum will give faculty and students the chance to meet with NASA and industry experts, introduce concepts and data from the competition into NASA exploration program planning, develop relationships that could lead to participation in other NASA student research programs and show the benefits of NASA-university-industry cooperation.
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