|Space Studies grad students present papers in Scotland|
The Space Studies Department is proving once again that its students already are leaders in the space industry. Three graduate students from the department were chosen to give presentations at the 59th International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow, Scotland. The students, Emily Chwialkowski, Grand Forks; Nathan Ambler, Honolulu; and Matt Allner, Colorado Springs, Colo., submitted proposals and were selected for the honor after a competitive process, according to UND Space Studies officials. The IA Congress runs through Oct. 3.
"It is our understanding that no university in the United States has as many students giving papers at this Congress as UND does," said Suezette Bieri, education programs coordinator in the Space Studies Department.
Chwialkowski, 24, will give a presentation on her experiences developing the UND's Vertical and Horizontal Space Simulators. UND is the only university in the United States that has spacecraft simulators available for student use.
"I came into graduate school just as the Vertical Space Simulator was in its final construction phase. I helped with the finishing touches and was one of the first students to test it out," she said. "Fortunately, I was involved with the development of the second simulator -- the Horizontal Space Simulator -- so, I became really interested in it and the educational aspects of it."
Chwialkowski's presentation is titled "A Spacecraft Simulator as a Learning Tool for the New Generation of Aerospace Professionals." Her research is being sponsored by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium.
Ambler, 25, said he's presented papers at other conferences, however, "none as prestigious and important to the field of space travel" as the IA Congress. He will discuss the suitability of experimental sensors in reduced-pressure environments, such as space habitations. Ambler and a team of UND engineering students recently tested the sensors 23 miles up on a NASA platform.
According to the data collected on that test, Ambler said, "there appears to be good correlation and promise for the application of these solid-state sensors." Ambler's research at UND also is being sponsored by the space grant program.
Allner, who grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, and currently teaches at Fox Meadow Middle School in Colorado Springs, is another veteran of international conferences, having made presentations in China, Spain and Canada. In Scotland, Allner will present two papers, the first of which deals with "Crew Performance Analysis" of a simulated Mars mission that was carried out at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah. The study encompasses psychosocial aspects related to long-duration space flights.
His second paper focuses on two NASA education outreach programs: the NASA Explorer School (NES) and Spaceward Bound. Designed for the K-12 community, NES is a program that Allner currently uses in his middle school curriculum. He's also been involved in Spaceward Bound, allowing him opportunities to travel to the Atacama Desert in Chile and to the Mojave Desert to serve as a crew psychologist at the MDRS.
He said his presentations in Scotland will provide an overview of both programs and their impact on K-12 and higher education.
"First, it means a lot to me because of all the support I have received from NASA, my graduate school professors, my family, and my friends," Allner said about his trip to Scotland. "The more I have succeeded, the more they felt and understood what an important part of this success they have been. We have shared the whole experience together along the way.
"This also means a lot to me because my own two children (Isabelle and Nathan) see their father, and the students I have taught over the years, see their teacher going after a big goal in life. They see all the steps I am taking and the work I am putting into this effort, and hopefully it motivates them to pursue challenging goals in their life as well. And finally, this is important because it helps me to get one step closer to my overall goal of becoming an astronaut, where I dream of one day working on the Moon as both a scientist and teacher."