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For their Future Projects, NASA tests Underwater tools made by students

The U.S. space agency invited college students from around the country to design, build and test devices and tools that could be useful on future missions

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NASA
NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory Astronaut Training Image source: Wikipedia
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Scuba divers worked a crank on a metal box that soon sent up a cloud of dust from the pallet of gravel where the device was anchored. Watching them closely on control room monitors, Mathew, an engineering student from West Virginia University, provided instructions.

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“The only reference is the driver’s non-dominant hand should be grasping the handle on the side of the case,” he said, who is also the project manager for a team of West Virginia University.

T NASA selected 25 teams and invited them to Houston to test their creations.

Asteroid material sampling

The main mission for which these tools would be needed is NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, said NASA’s Microgravity Next Program Manager Trinesha Dixon.

“The Asteroid Redirect Mission is looking for solutions as to how the crew members might collect samples on an asteroid,” she said.

NASA plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to an asteroid in September to extract small samples for analysis. A mission with astronauts on board is planned for sometime after 2020, utilizing the Orion spacecraft, a model of which is in the Johnson Space Center training facility.

Aerial View of NASA. Image source: Wikipedia
Aerial View of NASA. Image source: Wikipedia

Dixon said part of the difficulty in designing tools for such a mission is that no one knows what kind of material will be found on an asteroid, how hard it will be to penetrate, and what kind of effect might be produced by drilling or chopping into it.

After divers returned their device at pool’s edge, the West Virginia University students took it back to the large hall where each team had a separate table. There, they took it apart and carefully cleaned all the parts, including the two augurs that would be utilized to drill into the surface of an asteroid and extract material. Coming from a state known for mining, the team initially modeled its device on mechanisms used in mines that clamp to a surface and hold the drill steady.

Mathew Morrow explained, “When astronauts visit an asteroid, they need a tool out on the asteroid that can anchor, to hook their tools to, so we chose that design challenge.”

NASA supplied criteria for five separate types of tools or devices and let the students use their creativity and knowledge of engineering to come up with designs. Once the designs were accepted, they then had to build a prototype for testing.

“This is all student driven,” said West Virginia University College of Engineering and Mineral Resources professor Thomas Evans, who accompanied the three-student team to Houston. “I was just the faculty adviser and mentored them and drove them to deliver a product on time so they could be down here.”

Their device worked even better than expected, according to Evans.

“It was exceptional! I think this team did a fantastic job,” he said.

Evans said the West Virginia University team benefited from frequent visits to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the neighboring state of Maryland, where Mathew Morrow had an internship.

Ideas NASA can use for space tool development

The experience was exciting for the students involved, but they may also one day see some of the elements in their designs used in devices that astronauts employ in space.

NASA’s Dixon said, “We can take components from different tools, concepts that the student teams might come up with, and put them together in our conceptualization of that tool.”

In addition to that, she said, having such a program encourages students interested in space flight to continue their studies and possibly become part of NASA’s future workforce.

Mathew Morrow is one who has such hopes.

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“I am really hoping that there might be an opportunity there (NASA) or somewhere else in the space industry, whether it be in a private company or with the government,” he said.

Opportunities in the private sector for space engineers have diversified from being mainly contractors building rockets and other equipment for NASA to service companies with their own spacecraft that can ferry supplies to the International Space Station, and may one day take passengers into space and become involved in efforts to extract minerals and other resources from the moon, asteroids or other planets. (VOA)

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Burdwan University: All You Need To Know

The Burdwan University was accredited with ‘Grade A’ by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 2016

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Burdwan University
The Burdwan University was established on 15th June 1950. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Burdwan University has a 316-acre campus in three locations
  • It has nearly 50 major buildings
  • The University has 2000 externally sponsored projects

The Burdwan University, established by the then Chief Minister of West Bengal Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy on 15th June 1960, was a master plan to expand the scope of higher education beyond the metropolis.The Burdwan University results speak about its volume.

The University initiated its journey with 6 postgraduate departments and 30 undergraduate colleges. Now, with 93 postgraduate courses, 179 esteemed faculties, and 222 affiliated colleges; the Burdwan University has emerged as one of the premier institutions of higher education in India. The University was accredited with ‘Grade A’ by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 2016.

University of Burdwan
The Burdwan University has a 316-acre campus in three locations. Wikimedia Commons

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The Maharaja of Burdwan

The Burdwan University is built on the estate left by the last Maharaja of Burdwan, Udaychand Mahtab. The most important part is the ‘Mahatab Manjil’, once the royal palace of the Maharaja of Burdwan, it has now been turned into the administrative centre of the university. A marble plaque at the east gate gives information about the construction of the Mahatab Manjil by British firm Macintosh and Co., it is a unique representation of early 19th century Indo-European construction and was declared a heritage building by the Government of West Bengal on the 29th April 2013.

The work of a British botanist, Golapbag is where the academic cluster of the Burdwan University is located. The garden has nearly 1200 trees, 154 rare centuries’ old mahogany trees included, the historic Golapbag has been recently declared by the Botanical Survey of India as the Bio-diversity Heritage site. Other royal sites like Tarabag, Udaykanan, and Abhoykanan have been turned into residential hubs. The University also has a lake at the centre of a 56.3-acre eco garden, that is called Krishnashavar or the Black Lake.

Vision and Objectives

The University focuses on the empowerment of youth. It is a place that offers an opportunity to invent and reinvent minds. A place that helps students to disseminate the wisdom, ancient and modern, as also the art of critiquing them, among generations of student and teacher for the betterment of the human social existence, both local and global.

Objectives of the University of Burdwan:

  • Creating the most vibrant knowledge pool
  • Providing comparable and competitive facilities
  • Trying to achieve excellence in all fields of the university activity
  • Empowering the backward social clusters of its hinterland through teaching-learning process beyond classroom
  • Promoting the ethnic, social, religious and cultural diversity in unity
  • Reinvigorating our composite heritage in consonance with global India
University of Burdwan
The Burdwan University has nearly 50 major buildings. Wikimedia Commons

Governance of the University

The Burdwan University, an autonomous state university, has the governor of West Bengal as its Chancellor. Day-to-day administration is the leader of the Vice Chancellor, who is appointed by the Governor (on the recommendation of the state government).

However, the highest body in the administrative structure is the ‘University Court’. It deals with a diverse range of issues including human resources, financial activities, research administration and student affairs. The University court consists of ex-officio members, representatives, five nominated members, and invitees.

ALSO READ: Osmania University turns 100: India’s First University to adopt Urdu as medium of Instruction

Members of the University Court:

  • The Chancellor
  • The Vice-Chancellor
  • The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Academic)
  • The Deans of the Faculty councils for Post-Graduate Studies
  • The Secretary, Higher Education Department, Government of West Bengal or his nominee not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Govt. of West Bengal
  • The Secretary, Finance Department, Government of West Bengal or his nominee not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of West Bengal
  • The Chairman, West Bengal State Council of Higher Education or his nominee
  • The President, West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education
  • The President, West Bengal Madrasah Education Board
  • The President, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education
  • The Director of Public Instruction, West Bengal or his nominee not below the rank of Additional Director
  • The Chairman of the College Service Commission or a member of the Commission as his nominee
  • A nominee of the Chairman of University Grants Commission
  • Heads of Departments of the University

Executive Council is the next in hierarchy, it is responsible for decision-making in the matters of day-to-day affairs. The Executive Council consists of staff and student members. Further, the three faculties have their own Academic Councils consisting of Head of Departments.

The Burdwan University has 2000 externally sponsored projects. Wikimedia Commons

Admissions

To get into the line of Burdwan University’s admission is a task in itself as it consistently ranks among the best in India. Admissions in undergraduate courses of Engineering requires students to appear for WBJEE, an entrance examination that is open to students all over the country. While Postgraduate students have to appear for GATE.

For admissions in the courses of Faculty of Arts and Science, students are required to appear for an examination that is conducted by the respective department.

Facilities

  • Campus-wide Fiber Optic LAN
  • Internet facilities provided by National Knowledge Network (NKN) has a speed of 20 MBPS
  • E-Journal facilities
  • On-campus NSS programs
  • Health facilities like ECG, X-Ray, USG, Pathological Test, Lung Function Test, Foetal Doppler, Immunization, and Physiotherapy

The University also has a Museum and Art Gallery.

The Burdwan University has a 398-acre campus spread in three locations, in which 95% of postgraduate and undergraduate students live on-campus. With a faculty-student ratio of 25:1, 22 eminent scientists are currently working as members of the University. The University has a research budget of 123.45 million and has 2000 externally sponsored projects. All in all, the university is a full-package for hands-on and quality learning.