Gannon University Participates in NASA Program

NASA_USIPPosted: August 13, 2014

Gannon University students involved in NASA's USIP program:  (l-r) Matt Buehrle, Brandon Lawrence, Aaron Neiman (project manager), Joe Bennett (engineering team lead), Leslie Moukoro, Jenn Hu (science team lead)


Gannon University is one of 10 universities in the United States that was accepted into NASA's inaugural Undergraduate Student Instrument Program (USIP). This program is geared toward developing the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at the undergraduate level by forming multi-disciplinary teams to plan, build and fly a science payload on suborbital platforms provided by NASA.

A group of about eight students from Gannon's engineering, math, nursing and pre-medical programs have designed and are constructing a balloon-borne cosmic ray detector used to measure cosmic ray helium and proton nuclei, and the ratio of the two as a function of energy. This project was funded through a NASA grant of almost $50,000, and is being overseen by Nicholas Conklin, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, Wookwon Lee, Ph.D., associate professor, electrical and computer engineering, and physics instructor Perry Hilburn, M.S.M.E.

After spending the past year constructing the project, from creating and wiring circuit boards to building the payload's support structure, the Gannon students in the Scientific Ballooning Program submitted their proposal to NASA and were one of just 10 student groups selected to continue their research under the funding of NASA's USIP.

After spending the past year constructing the project, including designing circuit boards to building the payload's support structure, the Gannon students in the Scientific Ballooning Program are on track to finish the Cosmic-Ray Calorimeter in time to launch their payload during the Spring 2015 Semester in Tillamook, Oregon. Once launched on the Near Space Corporation's Small Balloon System, the detector is estimated to reach an altitude of about 120,000 ft. and flight duration of approximately six hours.