This September 22, Briana Tomboulian, a graduate student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, served as a student panelist for a briefing on Capitol Hill entitled “Students Bringing Space Research Down to Earth.” The program, sponsored by the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology (ASGSB) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), was intended to brief Congressional aides on the kind of space research being done by students. Tomboulian was recently awarded a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship valued at $66,000 per year for up to four years.
Tomboulian is currently researching a “Damage-Tolerant, Lightweight, High-Temperature Radiator for Nuclear Powered Spacecraft” for her NASA fellowship. “Reducing the radiator mass has a large impact on the vehicle mass for a nuclear-electric propulsion (NEP) spacecraft, thus a significant impact on cost and performance,” Tomboulian’s NASA proposal explained. “Decreasing cost and improving performance of NEP spacecraft directly supports the goal of improving the efficiency and affordability of transportation to, from, and around space destinations.”
The ASGSB, founded in 1984, provides a forum to foster research, education, and professional development in the multidisciplinary fields of gravitational and space biology. The AIAA’s mission is to address the professional needs and interests of the past, current, and future aerospace workforce and to advance the state of aerospace science, engineering, technology, operations, and policy to benefit our global society.
As NASA states about its Space Technology Research Fellowships, “The goal is to provide the nation with a pipeline of highly skilled engineers and technologists to improve America's technological competitiveness. NASA Space Technology Fellows will perform innovative space technology research while building the skills necessary to become future technological leaders.” (September 2011)