The Northwestern University Microgravity Group (NUMG) is a team of Northwestern undergraduates entering NASA’s Microgravity University competition to design and implement an experiment onboard NASA’s parabolic aircraft, aka the ‘vomit comit’. Founded in the spring of 2010, NUMG currently consists of eight Northwestern undergraduates ranging from sophomores to seniors. In the coming years we hope to expand both team membership and outreach audience to make NUMG a lasting Northwestern tradition.
We’ve received a grant from the Northwestern Murphy Society for $5000! This will be our primary funding source for the year, and will allow us to buy all our construction materials and subsidize our members’ travel to Houston. We’re continuing to investigate additional funding sources from Northwestern departments and possibly the Illinois Space Grant.
We also gave our presentations at Dearborn Observatory last Friday — we presented a few times during the 3 hour open house, and had about 20 people come. We will continue to present at Dearborn on selected Friday’s throughout the year, especially when it’s cloudy and the telescope can’t be used.
Our New Trier outreach is also coming along nicely — we’ve split the students into groups based on interest, and paired them with two undergraduates to begin formulating a project for the rest of the year.
The president of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell, happened to be around Northwestern yesterday during our bi-weekly meeting with our New Trier High School students, so we switched our plans around and went to see her presentation on the future of space. She discussed SpaceX’s vehicle development program from a technological and business perspective, focusing on their methods of increasing system reliability and sharply reducing cost… with the assistance of some spectacular launch videos.
Hopefully the presentation gave our high school kids some idea of what would be accessible to them as college students in science; internships at companies like SpaceX, as well as research at labs across the country (and world) — including NASA — are quite feasible. Next week we will be splitting the students into groups, pairing them with two undergraduates, and continuing our discussion of their interests and how they might lead to research projects.
In other news, we finally submitted our proposal last week… and now we wait!