For the fifth consecutive year, Grand Valley engineering students competed nationally and successfully produced a prototype device that might someday be used by astronauts.
Seven students, nicknamed the "Moon Miners," competed in the Micro-g NExT Design Challenge, sponsored by NASA. David Kavalauskas, who earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in August, said NASA asked teams to create a device that would allow astronauts to retrieve a core sample from the moon.
The Moon Miners worked throughout the Winter semester on their prototype. Jenna Stolzman, another recent graduate, said the device had a handle and a lever on the side to pick up and release samples.
The device was tested — with devices from other collegiate teams — at the Johnson Space Center's underwater testing pool in Houston, Texas. Previous Grand Valley teams had opportunities to travel to Houston to watch NASA staff members in action; because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Moon Miners gave directions to NASA divers virtually.