Calling All Engineering Students: Want to Design a Space Project for NASA?

NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) are seeking university engineering students for their annual Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage or RASC-AL competition. Enter for your chance to design a 'revolutionary' space project and make invaluable connections with aerospace industry insiders.

Space Rocket

Are you a bachelor's or graduate engineering student? NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) are calling for proposals for the 2011 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition. The nearly ten-year old program gives students a chance to interact with scientists at NASA and the NIA, as well as other aerospace industry experts, and work hands-on to develop a 'revolutionary' space project.

This year there are four possible themes for student projects:

  1. Design a cost-effective mission to a near-Earth object for the year 2030;
  2. Develop a strategy for reducing the risks posed by orbital debris from space junk;
  3. Work on a technology-enabled human Mars mission;
  4. Or develop a 'novel' project to engage the general public in human exploration missions.

The 2010 winner in the graduate division was a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The title of their project was 'Shared Human and Robotic Landing and Surface Exploration in the Neighborhood of Mars.' The winning team in the undergraduate division was a collaboration between the University of Maryland and Arizona State University. Their project was called 'Project RAVEN: Robotic Assist Vehicle for Extraterrestrial Navigation.'


To qualify for RASC-AL, entrants must be current undergraduate or graduate students majoring in engineering science at an accredited college or university. International students may apply, but only if they're affiliated with a U.S. school. Students must apply in teams of two or more that also include an advisor who is either faculty at their institution or an industry professional associated with the university. Multiple universities can collaborate on a design project, and NASA also encourages students to form multidisciplinary teams.

Student teams will need to submit a proposal by February 4, 2011. The proposal should include a summary of their project and an 'outreach plan.' The RASC-AL steering committee will then select up to 10 undergraduate teams and five graduate teams to compete against each other in the June 2011 forum in Florida. Student teams will be expected to submit a written report before the competition, and prepare a poster and oral presentation for the forum.

To learn more about the application process, visit the RASC-AL website.

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