Tulane Engineering Students Win NASA Contest for Spacecraft Design

Top engineering students from around the country recently participated in NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge, a contest to design better ways to assemble spacecraft in space.

“The Sunflower,” a solar powered spacecraft from Tulane, won the grand prize.

According to Tulane, it is a modular spacecraft created to ferry cargo spacecraft from low Earth orbit to lunar-distant retrograde orbit. All designs had to convince the judging panel–made up entirely of NASA employees–that they were revolutionary and feasible.

The winning team included Matthew Gorban, Dr. Timothy Schuler, Maxwell Woody, Otto Lyon, Ethan Gasta, Afsheen Sajjadi, John Robertson, and Mary Beth Wusk. Each of them will have an internship at NASA over the summer.

“We focused extensively on modeling the project at various scales, drawing from the resources of the School of Architecture and MakerSpace,” said Lyon, leader of the Tulane team. “The design perspective we gained from working in both departments brought our design together in a holistic way.”

Other participating teams included two from from University of Maryland, one from University of Colorado, and Georgia Institute of Technology with the University of Texas at Austin and New York University.