A team of students from Purdue and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical Universities (NCAT) have been selected by the American space agency Nasa to design and build a shoebox-size experiment to be operated on the International Space Station (ISS).
A team of 20 undergraduate students from Purdue along with students from other universities will work and will design and develop an experiment in "capillary fluid dynamics." John Kizito, a professor of mechanical engineering at NCAT, will lead the project with Steven Collicott, Purdue professor of aeronautics and astronautics, according to a press release from Purdue.
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The students will study how fluids can change shape while there are in tubes with no gravity. The data collected in the experiment will help in designing systems that can control fluids and gases such as life-support equipment and fuel-tanks for the spacecraft.
"This project will give students unique and in-depth, real-world, team-based, original, design-build-test educational experiences that will accelerate their learning and their careers," said Steven Collicott.
The Purdue students will perform their experiments during a period of over three years and will complete the project while taking Collicott's course on zero-gravity flight experiments. Collicott has also designed previous experiments that were conducted on the ISS.
"We anticipate the experiment becoming operational in orbit in 2014 or 2015," said Collicott. "Collaborating with Dr. Kizito to lead our students in the development of an orbital experiment is an exciting step for me. His NASA experiences and his teaching and research make this a good pairing," he added.
The students will work on processing data and creating procedures to operate the experiments on the space. They will also help and train the astronauts. They can thus be a big inspiration for middle school students to pursue various programs related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
The students will work through the ISS National Lab Education Project, a Nasa initiative to engage students and the public to take part in hands-on educational activities in the ISS mission. It also creates an opportunity for university students to gain knowledge and skill in STEM education and also help them get a job in the same career field.