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Tag Archives: cSETR

UTEP’s cSETR to Lead $3M Collaborative Grant to Foster Next-Generation Energy Workforce

The work of UTEP professors has placed the campus’ NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration Technology Research (cSETR) at the forefront of a three-year Department of Energy (DOE) grant worth $3 million for a collaboration between five institutions.

Yirong Lin, Ph.D., and Norman Love, Ph.D., associate professors of mechanical engineering, along with Calvin Stewart, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering, were named recipients of the grant. The award is a new initiative of the DOE known as the Partnership for Research and Education Consortium in Ceramics and Polymers (PRE-CCAP).

The UTEP professors will lead the effort with counterparts from Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Tennessee State University (TSU) in Nashville, as well as Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Kansas City National Security Campus toward the project’s overall goal of establishing a sustainable pipeline of highly trained, next-generation workers and a community of technical peers to support the core mission of the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) – to enhance national security through nuclear science applications.

“The cSETR is pleased to be awarded the opportunity to steward this Department of Energy collaboration,” said Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., associate vice president for strategic initiatives of UTEP and cSETR director. “The work of Dr. Lin, Dr. Love and Dr. Stewart to strategically design our education and research efforts in collaboration with partner schools and laboratories will ensure the success of PRE-CCAP. This grant is a testament to their efforts and to the national preeminence of cSETR, the College of Engineering and UTEP as a whole. We are excited to move forward.”

At UTEP, the fund will support three doctoral students and five undergraduate students. Those students will be a focal point of PRE-CCAP’s goal of providing opportunities for minority student research internships, research skills training, intellectual collaboration between Minority Serving Institutions and DOE laboratories, and to increase visibility of NNSA related scientific activities.

“We are building a pipeline for a future generation workforce,” Lin said. “There will be many opportunities for student research here at UTEP. They will also collaborate with other students in research projects, they will go on internships to these national labs where, chances are, they will get hired upon graduation.”

To accomplish that goal, Lin said the partner schools will take a three-pronged approach to the technical aspects of the project, which is geared toward developing a new method of material systems for applications in nuclear energy. At cSETR, research will be conducted on design, synthesis and fabrication of advanced ceramics and polymers for energy applications.

FIU will focus on material characterization while TSU will carry out simulations and modeling. The laboratories will provide technical guidance as well as provide student interns with real-world opportunities to carry out their work.

“All the materials that are being developed out of this proposal are very important for high-temperature applications seen in the nuclear energy fields,” Love said. “Since we’re working on something that’s very relevant to this field, students are able to develop, model and test at our partner institutions and are marketable after graduation.”

UTEP’s cSETR, City, County Team Up for Region’s First UAS Traffic Management System

The NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR) at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is setting the pace in a nationwide effort to improve low-altitude airspace safety.

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) experts from cSETR are leading a team comprised of leaders from El Paso County, the City of El Paso, El Paso International Airport and many other local government entities that will install the country’s first countywide-area operational low-altitude UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system.

The University and community have teamed up with California-based AirMap, a global airspace management platform for drones, for this implementation.

A UTEP research team began installation of the UTM infrastructure in February. The system achieved initial operational capability March 15, and is expected to be fully operational by late summer.

“Unmanned aerial systems research, development and commercialization is a rapidly expanding part of the U.S. economy,” said Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., cSETR director and chair of UTEP’s mechanical engineering department. “The cSETR research team under the leadership of Dr. Michael McGee is positioning UTEP and our region as a national leader in this new frontier. Our effort will create incredible educational and economic development opportunities for the El Paso community.”

Drone use by public users throughout the United States has risen significantly during the past few years, a trend that is expected to continue. There are currently more than 1,000 drones in El Paso registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. The actual number of drones in El Paso is likely much larger since not all owners register their aircraft with the FAA.

“The use of unmanned aerial systems will continue to exponentially grow throughout the U.S.,” said Michael McGee, Ph.D., cSETR senior research associate. “This UTM system sets the foundation for UTEP and our greater community to be national leaders in this arena, serving our 21st century student population.”

The primary focus of the UTM system is to increase safety throughout the Paso del Norte region. Mid-air collisions between manned and unmanned aircraft in low-altitude airspace are a significant concern.

This UTM system will allow for increased situational awareness for pilots of manned and unmanned aircraft, thus increasing safety in the community. The secondary focus of the UTM system is to facilitate safe and efficient drone operations, increasing public safety, and attracting more high technology opportunities for UTEP students.

Some of the societal benefits from utilization of the UTM infrastructure include helping farmers increase production by identifying problems in crops more quickly, clearing traffic accidents faster, inspecting critical infrastructure without putting people at risk, helping firefighters combat blazes more effectively, assisting in search-and-rescue missions, and inspecting buildings to identify energy efficiency issues.

Gallery+Story: UTEP, High School Students Win United Launch Alliance CubeSat Competition

Students from the NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research, or cSETR, at The University of Texas at El Paso have been selected as first place winners of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) CubeSat launch competition, known as CubeCorps.

Their project, Orbital Factory II (OF2), will be launched on board the Atlas V rocket and placed into an elliptical orbit approximately 26,000 miles above Earth’s center.

ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno traveled to El Paso and made the announcement Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 on the UTEP campus.

“I am thrilled to announce The University of Texas El Paso as the first place winner of our CubeCorps competition,” Bruno said. “Congratulations to the team; you are the next generation of rocket scientists and space entrepreneurs, and we are honored to be your ride to space.”

ULA’s CubeCorps was established to encourage hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences and provide universities with the opportunity to launch their CubeSats. This low-cost approach will make space more affordable and accessible.

Students and faculty members from UTEP’s Department of Mechanical Engineering will collaborate with engineers and technologists from Lockheed Martin Space Systems to design and develop the OF2, which will demonstrate on-orbit repair of solar cells using 3-D printing technology. The UTEP student team was led by research assistant professors Angel Flores-Abed, Ph.D., and Arifur Khan, Ph.D., cSETR research engineer Michael Everett, and David Espalin, associate director at the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation.

UTEP’s CubeSat development initiative is a strategic partnership between its Keck Center for 3D Innovation and cSETR.

“Our goal is to quickly position ourselves as a leader of this rapidly emerging area to bring more opportunities for our students,” said Department of Mechanical Engineering Chair and Director of cSETR Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D. “Although there are other major university players, our strategic strength in additive manufacturing and in-space propulsion makes us a formidable team.”

ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider, successfully delivering more than 115 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of the solar system.

UTEP’s second CubeSat project, Orbital Factory I (OF1), is giving students from Bowie and Burges high schools and Hornedo Middle School the opportunity to work alongside University researchers to demonstrate robotic manipulations using a CubeSat platform. OF1 was the second place finisher of the Boston Museum of Science Fiction and New York NASA Space Grant Consortium High School CubeSat Competition.

More K-12 learning opportunities will be included in the development and testing of CubeSats as part of cSETR’s commitment to engineering education at all ages.