Computer science seniors demonstrate innovation at NASA Design Challenge Showcase

Aurora Aggies

Four students from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University participated in the Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) NASA Design Challenge Showcase, held Nov.14 in Houston.

The Aurora Aggies consisted of computer science seniors Walter Pospick, Alyssa Valdez, Natalie Criscione and Kevin Lewis. Out of 14 teams across Texas, they placed fourth overall, fourth in poster presentation and first in oral presentation for their project,“Intelligent Lighting Control Systems.”

The objective of their project was to design an intelligent lighting control system that supports biological circadian rhythms and adapts over time, providing a healthy living environment for astronauts that is easy to control.

“I had fun working with my group and NASA on this project. It was a great opportunity to work on a solution to a real-world problem that NASA is trying explore,” Valdez said.

The TSGC Design Challenge, which is sponsored by NASA and administered by the Texas Space Grant Consortium, is a unique academic experience offering undergraduate students an opportunity to propose, design and generate a solution toward solving research objectives of importance to NASA and its mission.

The Aurora Aggies are enrolled in a capstone course taught by Dr. Bruce Gooch, an associate professor in the department.

“We were told that the program was closed,” Gooch said. “I told the students we could do the work anyway. NASA ended up opening a competition for inclusion in the program based on a preliminary plan and this group won. They have been fighting from the beginning.”

The overall experience provides student team members with an opportunity to engage in scientific research, hands-on design, space-related career opportunities, communication skills and educational outreach.