A group of three undergraduate electrical engineering students, Jason Knight-Han, Andrew Terrazas, and Blake Janowicz, have recently achieved recognition in a NASA competition due to their exceptional work on their senior design project. Guided by Dr. Nansong Wu, their project centered around the concept of Wireless Power Transfer based on Strongly-Coupled Magnetic Resonance, with the aim of enabling power transfer between ground and aerial vehicles.
The students participated in the NASA Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Innovative New Designs for Space (NASA MINDS) competition. Despite the challenges posed by the virtual format, the team attended the final awards ceremony on May 9th, 2023, where they received the exciting news that they had secured the third-place position in one category of the competition.
Their involvement in the NASA MINDS program required them to meet numerous deliverables over a span of nine months. The specific requirements varied based on their senior status, but for the senior members of the team, these obligations included submitting a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) paper, participating in live video calls, creating a technical poster, and crafting a Systems Engineering (SE) paper. While these tasks shared some similarities with milestones expected from other senior design projects, the NASA MINDS program had distinct deadlines, audiences, and criteria, effectively doubling the team's workload in terms of project planning, documentation, and presentation.
Upon being selected as finalists, the team found themselves among the nine remaining contenders out of the initial forty-two schools that entered the competition. They were granted the invaluable opportunity to deliver a final presentation and demonstration to a panel of NASA scientists and judges. This culminated in the award ceremony, hosted by NASA astronaut Winston E. Scott, during which they proudly accepted the third-place prize for their outstanding work on their Systems Engineering paper. This achievement marked a historic moment for Sonoma State University as it was the first time the institution had secured a placement in the NASA MINDS competition.