NASA Administrator James Bridenstine Visits the AE School

NASA Administrator James Bridenstine Visits the AE School

Jim Bridentstine and Congressman Tom Graves with four Aero Maker Space students
Aero Making It. NASA Administrator James F. Bridenstine (center) was impressed by the array of prototyping equipment available to students and faculty at the Yang Aero Maker Space, which he toured July 31. Guiding Bridenstine and Georgia Congressman Tom Graves (end, right) were a team of Aero Maker Space's student mentors (from left) Tristan HuangAlex Bustos, Simon Pahlsmeyer, and Carson Coursey. Check out this video of highlights from Bridenstine's visit.

Tom Graves and Jim Bridenstine talk with AE grad student Dawn Andrews
NextGen Thinkers. Master's student Dawn Andrews spoke at length with Bridenstine and Graves about the monopropellant technology that will enable the NASA Lunar Flashlight mission to survey ice on the moon.

Faculty and student researchers had an exciting surprise July 31 when NASA Administrator James F. Bridenstine dropped by the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering for a brief walking tour of the Space Systems Design Lab (SSDL) and Yang Aero Maker Space.

Bridenstine was accompanied by Georgia Congressman Tom Graves (14th District) and district representatives from the offices of Sen. David Purdue and Congressman Jody Hice (10th District).

"The AE School has a long and rich history of working with NASA to advance space research and build out new technologies," said associate school chair Dr. Stephen Ruffin, who also directs the Georgia Space Grant Consortium.

"What's unique about the AE School's work is that we are engaging so many students in the process of developing and testing new space technologies. They are working with us from the moment we develop the proposals right through to the end, which is what we were able to review today."

Introducing the Washington entourage to the SSDL were AE professors E. Glenn Lightsey and Brian Gunter, both of whom are working on NASA-supported CubeSat projects. They were assisted by student researchers like Dawn Andrews, who has worked on several small satellite projects over the course of completing two degrees at the AE School.

"We have four satellites built by Georgia Tech students in orbit right now," said Lightsey, whose work on NASA’s BioSentinel and Lunar Flashlight projects demonstrates new thruster technology that will allow for longer duration and better controlled missions in the future.

Bridentstine, right, and Graves, left, talking with a student in the AMS
Prototyping the Future. Bridenstine and Graves spoke with AMS mentor Alex Bustos about the software and equipment that allows students to test prototypes.

"And the great thing is that while these projects are helping us advance technology, our students are graduating with skills that will allow them to be immediately productive in their careers."

In Gunter's lab, the NASA Administrator saw another CubeSat project his agency has sponsored through the Undergraduate Student Instrument Program: Tethering and Ranging mission of the Georgia Institute of Technology (TARGIT). Gunter's researchers - AE students Abhijit Harathi, Alaric Gregoire, Alex Bustos, and Steve Hall - demonstrated several technologies being developed for TARGIT, such as an autonomous object-tracking camera, an infrared horizon sensor, 3D-printed components, and ground-based communications systems.

“These small satellite projects allow undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience in all phases of a satellite mission, from design to fabrication to mission operations,” said Gunter. 

“The opportunity for students to work on a satellite that will ultimately launch into space is a very rewarding experience for them, and is what sets Georgia Tech apart from other universities.”  

Gunter, far right, Bridenstine, far left, and five research assistants
Inspecting the Investments. The Space System Design Lab (SSDL) was a must-see destination when NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (end, left) visited the AE School on July 31. Introducing Bridenstine to a number of space technology projects in the SSDL lab were AE professor Brian Gunter (end, right) and several student researchers (from leftAbhijit Harathi, Steve Hall, Alaric Gregoire, Byron Davis, and Alex Bustos


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