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Students Celebrate Success at NASA

June 8, 2017

HOUSTON, June 7, 2017 -- A team of  Wentworth Institute of Technology seniors and their faculty advisor were celebrating at NASA’s Johnson Space Center today after watching scuba divers successfully test core-sampling tools that the students spent months designing and making.

The tests were conducted in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory—a 40-foot-deep pool where astronauts train for spacewalks.

The Wentworth team created a pneumatic drill and sample-collection tool called “Microgravity Regolith Extractor” for taking core samples that would typically be analyzed as part of a deep-space exploration.

The June 6 NASA tests were live streamed over the internet, and two iterations of the Wentworth-made tool used by the divers appeared to pass with flying colors; a core sample was successfully taken from a large boulder stationed in the pool. At the outset of the drill testing, one of the divers held out an underwater-writing board that read, “Wentworth Institute of Technology.” 

“Things went great with the tests,” said Associate Professor Anthony W. Duva, the Wentworth students’ faculty leader. “We got some really good feedback from the divers.”

The Wentworth contingent, the only students from a New England college in the program, spent months building prototypes and preparing for the tests. The team is comprised of four Mechanical Engineering seniors: Kristen Lundebjerg, Troy Doyle, Joshua Mortin and Jacob Williams.

“I think, and the team agrees, that this was one of the best learning experiences we could have ever had,” said Lundebjerg. “Not only did we test what we already learned at school, but we also learned that we do have the knowledge to take that learning into the real world.”

Calling themselves the Lunar Leopards, the Wentworth group was one of 32 college and university teams from across the country that advanced to the testing phase in the NASA program. The student groups are referred to as Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams, or Micro-g NExT.

Managed by the Office of Education at Johnson Space Center, Micro-g NExT helps support NASA's quest to engage and encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers.

For more, go to @NASAedu and #MicrogNExT. For additional information about NASA’s education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education. For more about NASA EVAs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/suitup.

--Dennis Nealon

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