It's a first for Nebraska Engineering: in April 2008 a team of UNL students conducted NASA research aboard high-altitude, reduced gravity missions. The group-mostly seniors and representing Electrical, Chemical and Mechanical Engineering-included: Stephen Brogan, Lincoln; Lee Redden, Kearney; Dustin Dam, Sidney; Olga Dzenis, Lincoln; Dana Valish, Columbus; and Tyler Goldberg of Alexandria, Minnesota.
They applied to NASA in Autumn 2007 and spent the winter preparing to test the "effects of 0G and 1/6G on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) data accuracy." After spring break, they traveled to Houston with their test materials: RFID tags, reader and specially-prepared container, as well as hundreds of supply items to test, from toothpaste to t-shirts.
With their adviser, Dr. Lance Perez, they spent the week of April 7 touring NASA facilities and meeting heroes like Clay Anderson, astronaut from Ashland, Neb. The mission flights-like "giant roller coaster" sessions-involved parabolic maneuvers with 30-40 second intervals of "freefall" (microgravity) when the experiments were tracked.
This research helps NASA streamline inventories of mission cargo, with efficiency a high priority. The students will prepare a report of their findings and will also share their experiences with younger students, to foster interest in science, mathematics and the American space program.
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