Tennessee Tech students accepted into NASA program

COOKEVILLE – This summer, two Tennessee Tech students will participate in the Multidisciplinary Aeronautics Research Team Initiative at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Ten students from around the U.S. are chosen to participate each year. In the last five years, no one from a Tennessee school has been invited.

Benjamin Hargis, from Rickman, and Matthew Powelson, from Fayetteville, will begin the MARTI program at Langley this summer. Each recently earned a bachelors’ degree in mechanical engineering at Tennessee Tech and will begin work on their master’s in the fall.

“Being chosen for such a prestigious and selective program is an honor for these students and a testament to the quality of students in the mechanical engineering program at Tennessee Tech,” said Steven Anton, assistant mechanical engineering professor. Anton is also a recent of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program.

Professional scientists and engineers serve as guides for the teams and assist in the design, building and testing of small autonomous Unmanned Aerial Systems. These systems must be able to operate in tandem with a tele-robotic ground rover vehicle and go into areas that are unsafe or impractical for humans.

Students will have to define their mission and method of operation to design their vehicles accordingly.

Hargis and Powelson will attend lectures from experts in the field, short courses, networking lunches with senior leaders, and discussions with NASA program and project engineers.

“This will be an exciting opportunity to work on a project directly in my area of interest that will allow me to make connections at NASA’s Langley Research Center,” Powelson said.

MARTI researchers present their results to officials at the NASA headquarters and other NASA centers, both via video conferencing and in person. At the end of the 10 to 12-week program technical reports may be published with the results of the MARTI student researchers.

“The opportunities provided through external summer research programs are invaluable,” Anton said.

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