Gannon University Receives Research Grant From NASA
Posted: May 26, 2016
Gannon University has received a $50,000 research grant from
NASA for its Science Mission Directorate's 2015 Undergraduate
Student Instrument Project (USIP) as part of the Student Flight
Research Opportunity program.
Influential in obtaining the grant were Wookwon Lee, Ph.D., an
associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at
Gannon, and Nicholas Conklin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of
physics. Together Conklin and Lee led the grant proposal to help
bring more opportunities to the students in engineering and the
Over the next 18 months, a student team led by faculty will
design a payload for near-space, high-altitude ballooning. The
payload will then go through an eight-hour thermal and vacuum test
in NASA's Columbia Science Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas in
After testing, the payload will fly aboard the High-Altitude
Student Platform (HASP) and will be launched in Ft. Summer, New
Mexico in September 2017.
Gannon's electrical engineering and science programs are not new
to this process, however. In 2013 they received a grant for $49,998
for their first USIP program. The payload was successfully
completed in March 2015 and was launched in Tucson, Ariz., aboard
World View's high-altitude ballooning platform.
In addition to the $50,000 grant from NASA, the Pennsylvania
Space Grant Consortium awarded the University's engineering and
sciences with a $4,700 grant. The grant will be used for sustaining
a higher education program at Gannon.
Lee said the 2016-17 grant will support two undergraduate
research projects: "Experimental Payload Design for HASP 2017
Integration and Launch" and "Tracking Payload Design for
Participation in the Solar Eclipse Ballooning."
"The proposed projects will contribute to creating and
maintaining research opportunities for undergraduate students,
primarily sophomores and juniors, but first-year students are also
encouraged to get involved in NASA mission-related projects early
on," he said.
Conklin said the last grant NASA awarded them allowed them to
provide quality research experiences for over 20 students from
engineering and science programs.
As for this year's NASA grant project, Conklin said, "We have
already assembled an excellent student team and I am very excited
to work with them on this project."