Student Research Takes Flight

David Salazar

California Space Grant Consortium (CaSGC) student David Salazar was very busy in 2013.  As the recipient of a CaSGC Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Scholarship, the recent college graduate took a leadership role in an exciting scientific experiment conducted in the Mojave Desert of California. David and a group of mechanical and electrical engineering students designed a device and sent it soaring to an altitude of approximately 2100 feet.  The launch vehicle used was a high power sounding rocket with an H-class motor and a thrust of near 60lbs. The team collected data pertaining to acceleration, velocity, pressure and temperature during the flight. Though the first flight led to a failure in deploying the payload (a foldable glider), the second attempt was a success and proved that the payload deployment mechanism that his team designed can be used in future flights. (Click here for a video of the launch.)
In addition to launch activities, David and his team also held an educational outreach event with a local high school, where they presented the details on the development, challenges and outcome of their experiment. In his efforts to inspire younger students to create and pursue their own investigational endeavors, David also recently participated in the Fullerton College Youth STEM conference where he conducted a hands on workshop for middle school students.  The students learned about propulsion and applied their skills to designing air balloon propulsion systems.
David graduated from California State University, Long Beach in December 2013 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He plans to attend graduate school in the fall with the goal of studying combustion and fluid mechanics. In the meantime, this enterprising young man continues his research as a full time engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base. The CaSGC is pleased to have played a role in providing a research opportunity that enhanced his educational path.

Preparing for the launch.

Presentation to high school students.