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The Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) is a coalition of five Virginia colleges and universities, NASA, state educational agencies, Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology, and other institutions representing diverse aerospace education and research.

The VSGC acts as an umbrella organization, coordinating and developing aerospace-related and high technology educational and research efforts throughout the Commonwealth and connecting Virginia's effort to national community of shared aerospace interests.

VSGC | News Virginia Space Grant News


News and Announcements

Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute Helps Virginia Students Test Satellites Bound for Space

Above: Virginia CubeSat Constellation students in the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute Test Chamber, left to right: James Flynn (ODU), John Noon (Virginia Tech), Ben Connelly (UVA), Anthony DeFilippis (Virginia Tech), David Khanan (UVA) , Nathan Gaul (UVA), Michael Ford (UVA), William Cheng (UVA) and Patrick Bebermeyer (UVA).

The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) is working with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) to test components of student satellites bound for orbit. The Institute's proton beam, which offers cutting edge cancer treatments, is being used to simulate the impact of radiation encountered in the space environment on space hardware developed by the students.

HUPTI was founded in 2005 by Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey. Opening in 2010, HUPTI became just the eighth proton therapy cancer treatment facility in the US and the only one in Hampton Roads. Proton therapy is a type of radiation treatment that uses protons, positively charged particles, which at high energy can destroy cancer cells. The targeted, non-invasive beam is configured to the exact size and shape of tumors, sparing more healthy tissue and reducing side effects.

The Virginia CubeSat Constellation is a NASA and VSGC-funded mission that will place three very small satellites in orbit as a constellation from the International Space Station as part of the NASA Undergraduate Student Instrument program. The student-led mission is a Virginia Space Grant Consortium project and a joint effort among four member universities: University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University and Hampton University. More than 100 students across the universities have been working on the project.

The Constellation has been selected for launch to the International Space Station in the third quarter of 2018 or early 2019 with orbital insertion to follow from the Station. Students must deliver their satellites to NASA for integration in July 2018. The ODU satellite, which has a drag brake to intentionally cause orbital decay, is expected to remain in orbit for up to four months. The other two satellites should orbit for up to two years. The satellites will communicate data to ground stations at Virginia Tech, University of Virginia and Old Dominion University for subsequent analysis using an analytical tool being developed by Hampton University.

The mission seeks to obtain measurements of the orbital decay of a constellation of satellites to develop a database of atmospheric drag and the variability of atmospheric properties. It will also evaluate and demonstrate a system to determine and communicate relative and absolute spacecraft position across an orbiting constellation. Called CubeSats, these very small satellites, about 10 centimeters (4 inches) on each edge, take advantage of microminiaturization of sensors and other components to undertake relatively inexpensive studies and demonstrations in space.

Student Project Manager Nathan Gaul notes, "This opportunity to use the proton beam at Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute is extremely important for our mission since it will let us test the space-worthiness of critical sensors and components on our CubeSats before their actual launch into space." VSGC Director Mary Sandy notes, "We are very pleased that Hampton University, a Consortium member, is generously making this unique facility available to our students and assisting them with the test set up."

For Vahagn Nazaryan, Ph.D., the Institute's Executive Director, it is all about education and helping students. "HUPTI is a genuine national resource that provides highly conformal, targeted treatments and has treated thousands of patients with brain, head and neck, breast, lung, CNS, pediatric, prostate and other cancers. Our advanced technologies are also a unique research resource. We are happy to provide this testing opportunity at HUPTI, and help students as part of an educational process that can contribute to our nation's technological knowledge."

On December 1 at HUPTI, members of the team tested the IMU (inertial measurement unit) for their satellites and the radio that will be used for communication between satellites in the constellation. According to David Khannan, UVA student test coordinator, the tests revealed that the radio performed well, but there were issues with the IMU that will require some potential changes. The students have named their satellites after the Roman goddesses on the back of the Virginia State Seal who represent the blessings of freedom and peace. UVA has chosen Libertas, the goddess of individual liberties; Virginia Tech selected Ceres, the goddess of agriculture; and Old Dominion University chose Aeternitas, the goddess representing eternity.

Learn more about the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute here.

Virginia Space Grant Consortium Announces 2018 and 2019 Scholarship and Fellowship Opportunities!

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) is pleased to announce the 2018 and 2019 Scholarship and Fellowship Program. Each academic year the VSGC awards over $300,000 in scholarships and fellowships to students attending Virginia Space Grant member institutions and majoring in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field.

Research proposals from students majoring in any STEM field and working on a project that supports NASA's mission are welcomed. VSGC can assist students and faculty in identifying appropriate research projects.

The Undergraduate STEM Research Scholarship Program provides a one-year scholarship of up to $8,500 to support undergraduate students actively engaged in a research project with a faculty mentor. Contact: Joyce Kuberek at jkuberek@odu.edu or call 757-766-5210. Deadline to apply is February 5, 2018.

The Graduate STEM Research Fellowship Program provides $6,000 in support to graduate students actively engaged in a research project with a faculty mentor. The Graduate Fellowship is add-on support for students and is renewable for one year. Contact: Joyce Kuberek at jkuberek@odu.edu or call 757-766-5210. Deadline to apply is February 5, 2018.

The STEM Bridge Scholarship Program provides $1,000 renewable awards to sophomore students from any federally recognized minority group enrolled full-time in a program of study in STEM at one of the five Virginia Space Grant member universities. Contact: Joyce Kuberek at jkuberek@odu.edu or call 757-766-5210. Deadline to apply is March 12, 2018.

Please display and distribute the enclosed flyers to interested students and faculty. The VSGC is especially seeking applications from underrepresented minorities, females, and persons with disabilities. You may reproduce the flyer as needed. Complete program information including student eligibility and a link to the online application are available on our website in the Scholarships/Fellowships/Internships tab to the left.

Links to the flyers can be found here:

Undergraduate STEM Research Scholarship Program

Graduate STEM Research Scholarship Program

STEM Bridge Scholarship Program

Community College STEM Scholarship Program

If you require further program information or additional copies of any flyers please contact us at vsgc@odu.edu or call us at (757) 766-5210.

New University Competition Guidelines Announced

Above: The 2017 ACRP University Design Competition winners traveled to Washington, D.C. in July to receive their awards.

New guidelines are available for the 2017-2018 ACRP University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs. We hope that faculty will encourage university students to participate in the competition which offers open-ended, real-world challenges that cross many science, engineering and business disciplines, including computer science. This is often done as part of a capstone design course, for independent credit or as a student professional society project. VSGC manages the Competition on behalf of the Airport Cooperative Research Program of the National Transportation Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Students win cash prizes and the university receives special recognition. This year we have increased the award amounts for the first and second place teams. First place will receive $3000, second place will receive $2000, and third place will receive $1000. In addition to presenting their designs at an awards ceremony at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, first place winners will present at a fall national professional meeting relevant to their topic.

Guidelines for the 2017 - 2018 academic year competition are available here. Please share the guidelines with anyone that may be interested in participating in the program.

In addition to last year's extensive range of topics, the following new topics have been added; one in each of the four challenge areas:

  • Operation and maintenance procedures to enhance sustainability and resilience at airports.
  • Optimizing NextGen technology to improve runway safety in particular and airport safety in general.
  • Enhancing potential for resilience and sustainability of airport improvement projects in response to climate change effects or other naturally occurring catastrophic events.
  • Planning for the integration and mitigation of possible impacts of drones into the airport environment.
Please contact Sarah Pauls by email at acrp@odu.edu if you have any questions or need additional information.

Virginia Teacher attends LiftOff 2017 Summer Institute

The VSGC sponsored Jessica Sain's attendance at NASA's Liftoff Summer Institute for educators in Houston this summer. You can read all about it on her blog.

 

Cybersecurity Video Series: Breaking the Code on a Career in Cybersecurity

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium has developed a free video series, Breaking the Code on a Career in Cybersecurity. Five short videos provide background on the importance of cybersecurity in our computer and data-driven world. Practicing cyber professionals across many disciplines talk about their work and their career paths, offering tips on how to prepare for a cybersecurity career. Links to other key resources are also noted. The programs showcase the wide range of cybersecurity jobs that involve the protection of our vulnerable systems from hackers. To view the video series click here.