June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1302.1 - 13.1302.8
Ultra-High Temperature Materials for Lunar Processing
Because oxygen is essential to both life support and propulsion, the ability to extract oxygen from lunar soil (a.k.a. dust or regolith) is a critical component in the development of space exploration. A lunar factory producing up to 50 times its own weight of oxygen would revolutionize how all countries access and utilize resources available in outer space. Packer Engineering was awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from NASA to design such a device and was successful in its development. In order for the component design to be successful, the Packer Engineering design team needed to find vessel materials that could withstand high temperatures, survive in a highly-reactive environment, and possess the longevity needed for semi-autonomous operation. Out of the 18 students hired under the educational summer intern program at Packer, one student undertook the task to survey the world’s best knowledge in ultra-high temperature materials (> 2000oK), and integrated this data into the system model for a device called the “Dust Roaster”. In 2007, the Dust Roaster was developed by a diverse team of engineers and scientists under the Space Grant Consortium Fellowship. Through the unique partnership of professors, engineers, and interns, an innovative solution was generated to extract oxygen from lunar soil. The result of this study is a body of information which has not previously been published, and the student is currently working to prepare a seminal paper on the results of her research. This paper will explore how the overall structure of the summer intern program overlapped on-going research projects and led to a deep synthesis of technical information from a senior pursuing a BSE degree in Multidisciplinary Engineering.
Introduction: Intern Programs at Packer
Packer Engineering, Inc. is comprised of 169 employees and hosts four separate intern programs each year. Although a relatively small company, Packer Engineering has been successful in framing management to utilize the talents of its interns and to provide invaluable real-world experiences in engineering. Every facet of the intern program management is effective and contributes to training the students to manage themselves.
The two largest groups of interns are represented by a total of 33 people, divided equally between university students and high school or community college students. Two high school science teachers work full time during the summer to supervise the high school interns. At Packer Engineering the college interns engage in multidimensional learning, as they not only get to experience the types of work engineers do in the real-world, but they are also responsible for organizing and mentoring an assigned group of younger high school interns to work on specific technical projects. The college interns are assigned to staff engineers, and are responsible for balancing paid consulting work for their mentors, with individual and team research and development projects. Hands-on learning is emphasized, in an effort to enable each student to return to school with concrete evidence of their experience. Teamwork is required, and each student is responsible to prepare a final technical report on his or her project. Below is a reduced schematic of Packer Engineering’s Summer Intern Program structure (Figure 1). This figure
Schubert, P., & Cunzeman, K. (2008, June), Ultra High Temperature Materials For Lunar Processing Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3602
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