NASA X-Hab Competition is Open for 2015

deep_spaceThe Exploration Habitat Academic Innovation Challenge, or X-Hab competition, is sponsored by NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation and gives undergraduate engineers a chance to design, manufacture, assemble, and test concepts that could potentially be used in deep space habitats.

X-Hab is now taking applications for the 2015 competition, and the deadline is April 30. Student teams must submit a plan for the design, manufacture, assembly, and testing of prototype systems that enable habitation and spacewalking capabilities for extended deep space missions on NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Orion is designed to carry astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, including missions to an asteroid and Mars.

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Better Buildings Competition Winners Announced


The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the winners of the third annual Better Buildings Case Competition, which challenges collegiate teams to present to industry leaders unique and innovative solutions for reducing energy waste and improving the efficiency of homes and commercial buildings. The winning student teams included Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University, Yale University, Stanford University, University of California – Santa Barbara, University of California – San Diego, University of California – Berkeley, Columbia University, and MIT.

So far, teams over the years have present over 100 energy efficiency solutions to more than 60 businesses, organizations, agencies and governments, according to National Journal.

Designing with Nature

A U.K.-based architecture firm called Exploration is looking to blend engineering, architecture, and eco-friendly construction by “growing” buildings using underwater microorganisms. According to FastCoexist, the idea is that such organisms can be trained to grow in the shape of a building, creating a “Biorock.” Traditional construction normally deposits carbon into the atmosphere, but this new method could help to reuse it.

Biorock would involve putting a very small current through an underwater steel frame. If the minerals grow at a slow rate, the resulting rock could match or even exceed the strength of concrete. The video above describes how the marine microorganisms have been able to regulate carbon in the atmosphere throughout Earth’s history. Exploration is also pursuing 3D printing using biological materials, in addition to Biorock.

AEESP Awards

The Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors offers several awards for undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of doctoral dissertations, graduate research, master’s thesis, and travel awards. Below are two we’ve selected to highlight, and you can visit the AEESP awards page for more.

1. MWH/AEESP Master’s Thesis Awards recognize outstanding master’s theses that contribute to the advancement of environmental science and engineering. Three AEESP members will make up the selection committee and judge each thesis based on scientific/technical merit, originality of research, contribution to the field of environmental engineering, and clarity of presentation. First prize is a plaque and $1,500, and second place is a $500 cash prize. $750 in travel funds will go to students who wish to attend the awards ceremony. Nominations for this award should be submitted by March 28 for the 2014 cycle.

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EEGS Early Career Awards

The Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society offers Early Career Awards annually to full-time university faculty members who started their academic appointment less than five years ago and who have completed a Ph.D. within ten years of the award date. The award is to acknowledge significant contributions to the disciplines of environmental and engineering geophysics.

Research specialties are not restricted by department or college. The award includes $1,000 in cash, a plaque, 30 minutes to present the research at the annual Annual Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP), and the opportunity to publish the citation and presentation in EEGS’s publication, FastTIMES.