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Billie A. Deason June 9, 1993

RELEASE NO. 93-040


University students and faculty from across the nation and officials of NASA and the aerospace industry will convene in Houston, Texas, June 14 - 18, 1993, to hear scenarios for missions to Mars and to see plans for futuristic hypersonic and hydrocarbon-injecting aircraft.

It is the engineering design students, however, from 44 universities participating in the NASA/USRA University Advanced Design Program who will be making the presentations; officials from NASA and the aerospace industry will be sitting in the audience.

At this year's conference at the Sheraton Crown Hotel and Conference Center at Houston Intercontinental Airport, hosted by the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, each university design team will present the results of their design project, offering the participants the opportunity to interact with each other and to share ideas. Further heightening the "professional" feel of the conference will be the presence of aerospace industry representatives to critique the presentations.

In its ninth year, the Advanced Design Program (ADP) was originally conceived by NASA to revive interest in engineering design education. The result has been a synergistic relationship that has encouraged students to study engineering design in courses where they gain experience working on potential "real-world" projects. This relationship in turn, has stimulated interest in NASA and the aerospace industry.

Typically, students (usually seniors) participate in the program by enrolling in a engineering design course, taught by a professor who serves as faculty advisor and a graduate teaching assistant who serves as team leader. The teaching assistant has spent ten weeks of the previous summer at a NASA center or industry sponsor site preparing project plans, gathering information relevant to the specific project, and gaining experience working with NASA and industry engineers.

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Each design team is assigned to a NASA engineer who acts as its mentor. NASA mentors aid participants in the selection of a project and offer advice and resources. Where time and geography permit, many universities present preliminary design reviews at the NASA centers as "dress rehearsals" for their annual conference appearances. These networking opportunities often prove invaluable for both the students and NASA: more than a few ADP "graduates" have been hired by NASA and aerospace contractors.

The program is funded by NASA and managed by University Space Research Association, the 75-member consortium created by the National Academy of Sciences as a means for universities to cooperate with government and industry in the development and dissemination of information about space science and technology.

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