Von Braun Symposium research poster contest attracts 29 students

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A total of 29 students participated in a student poster competition open to university students everywhere at the 12th Annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium hosted by The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Sept. 10-12.

"This is the second year that the poster competition has been open to students from any university," says Dave Cook, director of undergraduate research for UAH's Office of Academic Affairs. “As a result, we had more than 50 students apply, not only from UAH but also from other universities. We were really excited to have this opportunity for our undergraduate and graduate students to compete with students from other schools.”

Students present research projects relevant to the aerospace industry, such as atmospheric science, earth observation, space life sciences, space health, aerospace systems engineering and design, astrophysics, space weather, optics, economics, business, policy, sustainability, history, international relations, education, STEM outreach initiatives and related areas.

"Students continue to raise the bar, not only regarding the quality of their research, but also how they present it," Cook says. "Students really have to be at the top of their game when presenting their research to a team of judges made up of members from the American Astronautical Society (AAS). Students also have the opportunity to network afterwards, so it’s a valuable opportunity for them to improve their communication skills and interact with professionals during the symposium."

Again, this year, AAS offered the opportunity for one of the poster competition winners to present research at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Dubai, UAE set for Oct. 12-16, 2020. The poster competition winners can apply to the IAC, and of those selected, AAS will choose one student to receive registration, airfare and lodging for the conference.

"This is an amazing chance for one of the winning students to attend the world’s largest gathering of aerospace-related experts, and present their research,” Cook says. “We thank the AAS for continuing to support this opportunity, and I’d also like to thank the UAH faculty and research staff who work with our students and encourage them to participate in events like this."

2019 Poster Winners:

Engineering – First Place - Graduate
Nathan Schilling, University of Alabama in Huntsville
“Characterization of a pulse-recharge circuit for PuFF”

Engineering - Second Place - Graduate
Dennis Nikitaev, University of Alabama in Huntsville
“Seeded Hydrogen Propellant in NTP”

Engineering - First Place - Undergraduate
Shelby Westrich, University of Alabama in Huntsville
“Pulsed Power Diagnostics for Fusion Propulsion Experiments”

Engineering – Second Place - Undergraduate
Fausat Isu, University of Alabama in Huntsville
“Synthesis of Metal Organic Frameworks ZIF-8 for Carbon Dioxide Adsorption”

Physical and Liberal Sciences – First Place - Graduate
Nicolas Donders, University of Alabama in Huntsville
“Wavelength Calibration of the Full-Sun Ultraviolet Rocket SpecTrometer (FURST)’

Physical and Liberal Sciences – Second Place - Graduate
Samantha Johnson, University of Alabama in Huntsville
“Polarized X-ray sources for calibration of the IXPE X-ray telescopes”

Physical and Liberal Sciences - First Place - Undergraduate
Everett Cavanaugh, University of Alabama in Huntsville
Co-authors: Christopher Helmerich, Sean Widmier, Jered Hunn, Sarah Dangelo
“The Design and Testing of a Gamma-Neutron Spectrometer for the HELEN Project”

Physical and Liberal Sciences - Second Place - Undergraduate
Sydney Lybrand, University of Alabama in Huntsville
“A Preliminary Observation of Operational Products from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper”