Students L to R: Tim Klug, Adam Clayton, Matthew Hitt, Tyler Finley, Sarthak Dasadai, Nathanial Stepp, Justin Smith, Daryl Ann Winstead, James Bower, Evan Unruh
Mentors (Front row) L to R: Mr. Ryan Wade, Dr. Robert Frederick, Dr. Francis Wessling

The eighth Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium, "Space Exploration and Discovery: Expanding Human Knowledge," was recently held on the campus of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). The annual symposium is sponsored by the American Astronautical Society (AAS) and coordinated with UAH, the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Huntsville National Space Club.

The conference was attended by top aerospace professionals representing the private sector, government, and academia, and featured several notable speakers and panelists. This year, honored speakers included Patrick Scheuermann, Director, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Robert Lightfoot, NASA Associate Administrator, and "Mike" Massimino, an American engineer and former NASA astronaut who is now a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University, and the senior advisor of space programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

For six years, the symposium has hosted a student poster competition. This year, 33 students participated in the competition. UAH graduate and undergraduate students present their research to AAS members and guest judges to compete for prizes. "With most of the symposium being hosted on our campus, the poster competition is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the capabilities of UAH's undergraduate and graduate students," said Dave Cook, Coordinator of Student Research Programs for UAH's Office of Academic Affairs.

During the competition, students have an opportunity to 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.

The 2015 winners were:

Category 1: Physical and Liberal Sciences
Atmospheric science, earth observation, space life sciences, space health, astrophysics, space weather, optics, economics, business, policy, sustainability, history, international relations, education, STEM outreach initiatives.

Graduate Students
First Place
Sarthak Dasadai, College of Science
Title: "What do Shocks Tell us About Galaxy Clusters?"

Second Place
Timothy Klug, Tyler Finley, College of Science
Title: "EarthKAM: Engaging Middle Schools in Earth Science through Interactive Earth Observation"

Undergraduate Students
First Place
Adam Clayton, Anthony Lyza, College of Science
Title: "Analysis of a Complex Mesovortex Evolution during the Second 30 June -1 July 2014 Derecho Event"

Second Place
Daryl Ann Winstead, Kaushik Narasimhan, Christina Fischer, Amberle Keith, College of Science
Title: "Texas and Arizona Ecological Forecasting Utilizing NASA Earth Observations to Monitor and Manage Ocelot Habitat Loss"

Category 2: Engineering
Aerospace systems engineering and design, propulsion
First Place
Myles Scarano, College of Engineering
Title: "Value Modeling for Space Launch System Missions"
College of Engineering

Second Place
Matthew Hitt, College of Engineering
Title: "Testing and Modeling of a Porous Axial- Injection, End-Burning Hybrid Motor"


First Place
Nathaniel Stepp, College of Engineeing
Title: "Dynamic Modeling and Attitude Control of a High Altitude Balloon Payload"

Second Place
James Bower, Evan Unruh, Justin Smith, Colleges of Engineering and Science
Title: "Project Low Horizon -Horizon Detection through the use of Infrared Sensors"



Dave Cook