VOLUME 11, NO. 2 SEPTEMBER 1997
Twelve students in four teams inaugurated a Major Qualifying Projects program at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSPC) in late august. "We're excited about this opportunity to work with one of NASA's premiere centers," says electrical and computer engineering Professor Fred J. Looft III, program director. "This site, a world-renowned research facility for unmanned spaceflight, was a natural choice for this initiative - an off-campus MQP program that recognizes the breadth and depth of science and engineering projects done at Goddard."
This MQP program, open to all students in all disciplines, will break with the traditional MQP off-campus program methodology. Fewer than 1 percent of MQP students work at of-campus sites, primarily because no formal MQP site exists. "This first multidisciplinary MQP site will provide an opportunity for WPI students to satisfy their project requirement during one term of intensive and focused team project work in a professional, technical environment," says Looft.
"Establishing this program at GSFC will, for the first time, provide an opportunity never before available. NASA administrators are looking forward to the high level of science and engineering expertise the WPI students will bring to the center's ongoing projects."
Students will reside in the same hotel that previous Washington D.C. project teams have lived in and will travel daily to the Goddard center in nearby Greenbelt, Md. Each of the inaugural teams completed a Preliminary Qualifying Project (PQP) in D Term to provide background research for their MQPs.
Goddard administrators have worked with WPI to identify projects for the student teams. Looft and NASA mentor Douglas Leviton, an optical physicist in the Optical Component Test and Development Group, will serve as faculty advisor to two projects that will be conducted with that group: "Automation of Vacuum Chamber at GSFC Diffraction-Grating Evaluation Facility" and "Demonstration of an Absolute Rotary Encoder Disc by Dynamic Optical Lithographic Means." Computer Science Professor David Finkel will advise "Computer System Load Balancing" with NASA mentor James Poland, head of the Fabrication and Development Section, and the fourth project, "Development of a Catalytically Deposited Low Residual Stress Nickel Plating for Beryllium Optics," will be advised by chemical engineering Professor Karen Rutledge and NASA mentor Joel Mitchell, a chemist/ aerospace technologist in the Plating and Composites Engineering Section.
Looft will be the primary advisor-in-residence for four weeks of the program; Finkel and Rutledge will spend one or more weeks in Washington as well.
Additional details on this project site may be found at ece.WPI.EDU/~fjlooft/gsfc/
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