WVU Robotics Team, Grad Profile, & a Cyclotron

Over Labor Day weekend, NASA’s Centennial Challenges concluded with the largest prize awarded in the five-year run of the Sample Return Robot Challenge and the team from West Virginia University (WVU) is the big winner. The WVU team took home first place for the third straight year and won $750,000. The goal of the Centennial Challenges is to allow citizens to help NASA solve problems through the sharing of information regarding the technology of rovers that travel to Mars.

In total, the WVU team has prevailed over 50 others, including the Level 1 victory in 2014. That victory qualified it to compete at Level 2 in 2015, claiming $100,000 for the first Level 2 victory. They are the only team to ever win Level 2 – and it’s a feat they’ve achieved for two consecutive years. Morgantown native Nick S. Ohi, WV A 2016, has participated all three years in the competition as he transitioned from an undergraduate to a doctoral student in the mechanical and aerospace engineering program at WVU. Read an article from WVU Today with more details on the team’s work, a video of their robot in action, and images from the most recent competition.


Trine University (IN) recently profiled Christie Hasbrouck, IN E 2016, a graduate student in metallurgical and materials engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Hasbrouck is a 2016 mechanical engineering graduate of Trine now working on a research project involving laser brazing of high-temperature materials. This work combines her two passions: airplanes and metallurgy and materials engineering.

“Silicon carbide (SiC) is gaining popularity in the aerospace industry because of its incredibly high working temperature range, low density and excellent oxidation resistant,” said Hasbrouck. Click here to read the news article with more information on her career. Hasbrouck is a 2016-17 TBP Fellow, 2014-15 TBP Scholar, and serves on the Student Advisory Board for the Association.


According to an article from The Washington Post, a team of students led by an associate research professor at the University of Maryland are working towards building the largest cyclotron built by undergraduates. Luke Bittner, MD B 2016, and Brian T. Heligman, MD B 2016, started the project by securing funding from the student government association to build the particle accelerator, called a cyclotron, as a teaching tool.

Next they rallied a group of students and recruited Tim Koeth, Ph.D., to guide them. The cyclotron is still a work in progress and this spring Dr. Koeth offered a course called Building the Maryland 5 MeV Cyclotron as a senior capstone design program.


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