Florida Tech Professors, Students and Experiments Experience NASA Zero Gravity

MELBOURNE, FLA.—A Florida Institute of Technology research team, led by Daniel Kirk and Hector Gutierrez, associate professors in the College of Engineering, recently completed NASA’s Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology (FAST) program in Houston, Texas. Out of 52 applicants for the program, Florida Tech was one of only 17 teams selected. Other participants were teams from Purdue University, Cornell University and Stanford University. Florida Tech’s team was the largest college representation in attendance.

Undergraduate team members were aerospace engineering majors David Becknell, Torin Crandall, Brittany Essink and Richard Schulman. Ran Zhou, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, also participated.

Florida Tech’s objective was to fly experiments on the Zero G research aircraft. The team’s research project explored the behavior of liquid dynamics in reduced gravity to simulate the behavior of rocket propellants in a space environment. The team succeeded in collecting valuable data, which will be used by NASA scientists and engineers, and commercial companies. This work will benchmark and validate numerical models of liquid “sloshing” inside rocket propellant tanks in microgravity.

“Dr. Gutierrez and I are very excited about the data and even more so about providing a truly unique experience for some of our very best students to fly in zero-gravity and to be part of a cutting-edge research program,” Kirk said.

For information about the programs offered in the College of Engineering, visit http://coe.fit.edu/ or call (321) 674-8020.

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