Pioneering Women: PC goes to DC

Thursday, February 20, 2020
NASA Team to DC

NASA has its eye on Phoenix College (PC). Since the fall of 2018, seven PC students have NASA’s Community College Aerospace Scholar Program. The week-long intense internship at various NASA Space Flight Centers throughout the country is grueling yet rewarding for the STEM students who attend. 

Now, PC’s students are looking over the horizon at the next star: On February 25, NASA celebrates the 30th anniversary of its National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. For the event, they selected an exclusive number of student exhibits to be showcased for the anniversary at Rayburn House on The Hill.

NASA chose only 23 exhibit submissions. Of the 10+ affiliate space grant Universities and Colleges in Arizona, the Phoenix College abstract submitted by Eunice Lopez and Jessica Frantz was selected. 

The two STEM students wrote, “Real-time Communication for Atmospheric Research,” about long-range, real-time communication systems that support research such as air quality, climate change, atmospheric radiation and more. As the central technology development for PC's ASCEND program over the last two years, Eunice and Jessica were the team-leads that made this complex system work. It is now a base technology that will be flown in future high-altitude-ballooning (HAB) flights.

“Phoenix College developed a real-time communication system capable of transmitting video on the 5 GHz bandwidth,” said Ernest Villicana, Phoenix College’s NASA ASCEND Faculty Mentor and Engineering Faculty. “This platform uses accessible materials, computer programming and communication protocols to transmit video to a host computer. When used in HAB applications, this system can offer students the ability to monitor their atmospheric experiments in real-time, offering valuable insight into the atmospheric conditions their payload is experiencing and accelerating the analysis of their collected data. Turbulence, external forces, and wind conditions can often make video difficult to analyze in HAB applications, so Phoenix College developed an electrical-mechanical stabilization system capable of stabilizing the video on the yaw axis. This combination of replicable technologies can improve the analysis of atmospheric data for students across the country.”

NASA works with students through the Space Grant program. For NASA’s anniversary event, all members of Congress have been invited to attend, and PC hopes Arizona's Senators and Representatives will stop by and view the exhibit and congratulate the two interns. In the reception hall, student work will showcase work in virtual reality, robotics, sounding rockets, lunar and Mars samples and more. Giving a special welcome will be a message delivered from a previous Space Grant alum who is now on the International Space Station. 

As Villicana says, “Engineering Women Power" at PC is very alive and healthy with these pioneers leading the way. Eunice and Jessica are PC's first NASA ASCEND women team-leads and they have set new standards for future teams.




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