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The Texas Space Grant Design Challenge Program

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Undergraduate Space Design and Project Courses

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1271.1 - 13.1271.17



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Paper Authors


Debbie Mullins Texas Space Grant Consortium

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Debbie Mullins is the Program Coordinator for the Texas Space Grant Design Challenge. Many of the facets of the program are based on her ideas and she is the face of the program to students in the participating academic programs. She solicits projects, recruits mentors, and attends to the many details of running the program.

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Wallace Fowler University of Texas at Austin

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Wallace Fowler is Paul D. & Betty Robertson Meek Centennial Professor and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the U. of Texas at Austin. He also serves as Director of the Texas Space Grant Consortium.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



The Texas Space Grant Consortium [TSGC] Design Challenge Program offers students enrolled at TSGC members institutions a hands-on opportunity in systems engineering design. This non- competitive NASA-sponsored program, now in its sixth year, motivates undergraduate student teams to design solutions to issues of importance identified by NASA with funding for project research and development, associated travel and merit-based scholarships. The overall experience pairs the student team and faculty advisor with a NASA mentor; offers peer-reviews of paper submissions; proposal writing guidelines and instruction; and affords undergraduate student team members of any level with the opportunity to engage in relevant scientific research, hands-on discipline-related design, career information, opportunities in meeting presentation and educational outreach.


Sponsored as part of a NASA Workforce Development initiative since 2002, the TSGC Design Challenge [TDC] has continued to deliver a unique academic experience to the undergraduate student teams that participate: the opportunity to propose, design and fabricate a mission- relevant design solution for NASA. Design Challenge project topics are submitted to TSGC for design team consideration by engineers and scientists working within the NASA community. The program requires that each team member earn academic credit toward graduation and accommodates a variety of design sequences taught in institutions of higher learning across the State of Texas: one-semester design, two-semester design, and design and build programs.

Team progress is driven by a series of required milestones, called “Levels” and “Option Areas.” By satisfying milestones, a team earns program funding increments to support their project. The guidelines and rewards attached to each deliverable provide structure to the semester; and motivation, instruction and funding to the team as projects grow and develop from a preliminary idea-stage to an acceptable design solution. Peer reviews provided by graduate-level students with expertise in related disciplines provide additional guidance and technical advice after each proposal submission. Earned funding increments are supplemented by travel grants to promote off-campus collaboration and learning opportunities; stipends to supplement second semester model building; and “Bonus Awards” that recognize and reward individual team accomplishments.

The Texas Space Grant Consortium [TSGC]

Formed as part of a National Space Grant network in 1989, TSGC is one of fifty-two Space Grant consortia making up the national-level membership; with over 850 affiliates from universities, colleges, industries, museums, and state and local agencies involved. The Texas

Mullins, D., & Fowler, W. (2008, June), The Texas Space Grant Design Challenge Program Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4469

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