Tarleton State RELLIS Students Shine at NASA-TSGC Design Challenge

Tarleton State University engineering students have earned recognition in two consecutive semesters at the NASA-TSGC Showcase. Team members are, from left, Ugochukwu Etufugh, Christian Millard, Akash Musale, Griffin DaRosa, William Bradshaw, Jayce Thedford, NASA mentor Chatwin Lansdowne, and Dr. Nourouddin Sharifi, faculty adviser and principal investigator of the project.

STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University engineering students from the RELLIS campus captured awards in four categories, including first place for Best Model/Display, at the recent NASA-Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) Design Challenge in League City.

The event challenges undergraduate students to propose, design and fabricate a solution toward solving the space agency’s research objectives. NASA sponsors the competition, and TSGC administers it.

Dr. Nourouddin Sharifi is the faculty adviser and principal investigator for the Tarleton State team, nicknamed the RELLIS Rovers.

“I am happy that I could enhance opportunities for students to engage meaningfully in the academic experience while providing sustainable support for their academic achievement, goals and professional development,” he said. “Here is what I say to them: ‘Work hard, awards will come to you.’”

The Tarleton State team was led by Dr. Sharifi and Dr. Alexander Herescu. Students included Christian Millard, Ugochukwu Etufugh, Griffin DaRosa, William Bradshaw, Akash Musale and Jayce Thedford. The group also finished second in Top Design Team and third in Oral Presentation and Top Peer Review.

Their goal was to develop a breakthrough user-friendly personal electric vehicle to revolutionize lunar exploration, taking into consideration the rugged terrain, abrasive dust and size, weight, and power constraints. 

Each team, guided by a NASA mentor, agrees to submit five deliverables to TSGC each semester.

TSGC hosts the two-day NASA showcase each semester for teams to present their research work in poster and oral form. The winners receive a scholarship award. For their spring semester recognition, each RELLIS Rover student member is eligible to receive a $750 scholarship.

The RELLIS team was also honored for its efforts in the fall 2023 showcase, being named runner-up for Best Model/Display, third place in the Best Poster category and fourth in the Best Design Team competition. For their efforts last fall, team members each received a $500 scholarship.

The consortium is comprised of 65 Texas universities, industrial organizations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies working together to ensure that the benefits of space research and technology are available to all Texans.

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