Colorado State University’s Space Grant Program Provides Â??out-Of-This World’ Opportunities, Makes Important Advancements in Space Science

Colorado State University’s summer Space Grant Program, part of the NASA-sponsored Colorado Space Grant Consortium, is providing college students with outstanding opportunities to gain hands-on experience in aeronautics and space science. Space Grant also allows faculty from a broad range of backgrounds the chance to conduct unique and original research related to space and NASA’s space programs. Through this summer’s Space Grant Program, nine Colorado State students and three faculty are participating in research ranging from developing exercise equipment for space-born astronauts to improving space-shuttle operations.

"Knowing that today’s students are tomorrow’s scientists, the Colorado Space Grant Program at Colorado State University provides opportunities for student interns from all levels to gain the experience and confidence they need to prepare for careers in space science and technology," said Paul Wilbur, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the program. "The program also provides seed grants allowing faculty, who would not typically have the opportunity, to conduct research in space science to make valuable contributions to this important area of research."

The National Space Grant College and Fellowship program is a network of colleges and universities working to expand opportunities for Americans to understand and participate in NASA’s aeronautics and space programs by supporting and enhancing science and engineering education, research and outreach programs. Each year, Colorado State must raise matching funds to receive the NASA funding and continue participation in the program.

Colorado State’s Space Grant program strives to educate students at all levels by encouraging and supporting interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research experiences and has demonstrated that

undergraduate student education and research opportunities go hand-in-hand.

"Student participation is promoted in all research projects with the goal of fostering an intellectual climate where education, technology transfer and research are inseparable," said Wilbur.

Students accepted into the Colorado State program receive a stipend of up to $3,600 for 10 weeks of research. The program offers faculty research seed grants of up to $8,000 for original space-related research that holds promise for subsequent funding from an external source and for graduate degree pursuits.

Through the program, students have participated in the design, construction and testing of an astronaut exercise machine under reduced-gravity conditions and designed inflatable habitats for human missions to Mars. Other recent projects at Colorado State include using global positioning systems and satellite information to efficiently distribute fertilizer on corn fields; studying plant root orientation in a microgravity environment; simulating wind forces on launch vehicles to build effective exhaust deflection devices; and looking at the effects of microgravity on exercise posture during a straight-leg deadlift.

"The Colorado State University component of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium is dedicated to providing students with opportunities to design and test space engineering and science experiments," said Marvin Criswell, professor of civil engineering and associate director of the Space Grant Program at Colorado State. "Our emphasis for students and faculty is on the creation of innovative programs to assure the development and transfer of practical applications in aerospace research and education."

Examples of this summer’s projects include a mechanical event simulation of the space shuttle’s remote manipulator system being worked on by Mark Miller, a mechanical engineering student at Colorado State. Raoul F. Reiser II, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, is working through the Space Grant program to develop an exercise machine to prevent atrophy of astronauts’ muscles when in microgravity environments.

     Students involved in the Colorado State Space Grant program also recently participated with engineering teams from 10 other Colorado colleges and universities to launch high-altitude balloon experiments that test new concepts and technologies that could be used on future space flight missions. Colorado State students tested a prototype device that upon landing would deploy and operate a planetary rover.

     Colorado State’s Space Grant program additionally helps K-12 teachers inspire students to pursue a higher education in science or engineering through outreach projects, teacher programs, development workshops and interactive student education. K-12 students benefit from classroom visits and mentoring programs designed to develop a diverse workforce of future scientists, engineers, technology professionals and educators.

For more information about Colorado State’s Space Grant program, visit the Web at