NASA JPL MRSS Student Design Team Makes Bricks From Mars Soil

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It’s not every day that a team of college seniors gets to present an idea to NASA and Buzz Aldrin.

“The first day after we presented to Buzz Aldrin, we were freaking out,” mechanical engineering senior Muhammad Shah said. “We started from nothing and we narrowed it down. Today, we have a really cool system.”

That really cool system is a microwave kiln that can turn Mars soil into bricks for building on Mars.

The opportunity arose out of a list of projects available from which student design teams could choose. This team settled on the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory project to solve a problem on Mars. The parameters were broad, which led the team through a series of trials and errors. What initially started as a 3D printer, evolved into a microwave kiln, due to time and cost constraints, but the team couldn’t be happier with the results.

“We are thankful that they (JPL) let us branch out and get creative,” electrical engineering senior Briana Cantos said, “and be a part of the exploration to Mars and putting our footprint there.”

The team will present their project in the Northrop Grumman Engineering and Science Student Design Showcase on April 7 at Florida Tech, then pitch the idea to NASA JPL. If NASA likes where they’re going, they will take it from there, which means this student design project could someday end up using real Mars soil.

“This has been my favorite thing about college,” mechanical engineering senior Alex Light said. “In 10 years, if you were to look back on college and remember one thing about it, this would probably be it.”

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Jessica is the Undergraduate Marketing Manager for Florida Institute of Technology. Always on the lookout for cool stories about undergrads doing amazing things.

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