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Rocketry Team Taking Part in NASA Competition

2017 Student Launch activities at the Bragg Farm in Toney, Alabama

2017 Student Launch activities at the Bragg Farm in Toney, Alabama

A team of engineering students has been selected to participate in NASA’s Student Launch project, which pits 45 teams from across the countryagainst one another in an attempt to overcome a specific challenge.

This year’s competition, held during rocket trials April 4–8 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, requires teams to build a reusable rocket capable of carrying a payload at least one mile high and successfully landing back on Earth.

Teams have a choice of one of three payloads:

  • a camera that can identify and discern between targets in flight
  • a rover that deploys upon landing, moves at least five feet, and extends solar panels
  • an onboard system that can triangulate a landing within a specified zone

“We made a unanimous decision to go with the rover option,” said Grayson Hawkins, a senior in mechanical engineering who co-leads the team with Theresa Palandro, a senior in aerospace engineering. “We must consider problems such as ‘Can the main axle handle 20 Gs of acceleration?’ and ‘What is the most efficient way to stow the rover during flight?’”

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Apply for Summer Graduate Research Assistantship

The Office of Research and Engagement invites interested parties to apply to the FY18 Summer Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) Program. Funding for the assistantships will be available at the beginning of the 2018 summer term and last through the end of the term.

Each application for a Summer Graduate Research Assistantship must be submitted by a faculty member and must be in support of a named graduate student for the three-month summer period (May, June, and July). While the research project may be in partial fulfillment of the graduate student’s degree requirements, the application must show how the research project will advance the faculty member’s research agenda. The proposals will be judged by a subcommittee of the Research Council and funding will be available at the beginning of the summer term.

For more information, visit tiny.utk.edu/summer-gra

The application must be completed by noon, February 28, 2018. There can be no exceptions. A subcommittee of the Research Council will judge proposals and the faculty and department will be informed of the results.

Student Startup Grow Bioplastics Awarded NSF Grant

Tony Bova and business partner Jeff Beegle pose for photos in Oak Ridge Friday, July 15, 2016. Bova and Beegle founded Grow Bioplastics, a company specializing in biodegradable plastic sheets used in landscaping and agriculture. (Adam Brimer / University of Tennessee)

Tony Bova and business partner Jeff Beegle pose for photos in Oak Ridge Friday, July 15, 2016. Bova and Beegle founded Grow Bioplastics, a company specializing in biodegradable plastic sheets used in landscaping and agriculture. (Adam Brimer / University of Tennessee)

Grow Bioplastics, a student startup, has received a $225,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. The award will fund research and development work on lignin-biomass-based biodegradable plastics for agricultural applications, specifically plastic mulches.

Grow Bioplastics’ team, led by co-founders Tony Bova and Jeff Beegle, will use the SBIR funding to create new biodegradable plastics from lignin, a waste product of the paper and biofuel industries. Bova is an energy science and engineering PhD candidate in UT’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education. Beegle, a recent graduate with a master’s degree in microbiology, also completed his studies in the Bredesen Center.

The company’s biodegradable product offers an alternative to plastic mulch films used by farmers nationwide. Current nondegradable plastics must be removed at the end of each growing season and cannot be recycled. Grow Bioplastics’ biodegradable film can be plowed into the soil after each use, offering a solution to the additional labor costs and environmental impact of current films.

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Recognitions, January 24

Students Chosen as Normandy Scholars

Four students have been selected to participate in the Normandy Scholars program during the spring 2018 semester. Students in the program will study World War II in a wider context by examining how social, cultural, political and technological shifts affect how societies react to and commemorate past conflicts in their national histories. Only 15 students were accepted from the highly selective pool, including Sydney Bittinger, 3rd-year Architecture; Patrick Keogh, 3rd-year Interior Architecture; Autumn Ragland, 2nd-year Architecture; and Jonathan Winfiele, 3rd-year Architecture.

Katy Chiles Receives NEH Fellowship

Katy Chiles, associate professor of English and affiliate faculty of Africana Studies, received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fellowship for the 2018-19 academic year to support her book project, Raced Collaboration in Antebellum America. The project is the first comprehensive study of the crucial role collaboration played in early African American and Native American literatures. Chiles’s focus of study is early American literature and critical race theory – a field that includes a commitment to social justice. In her book, she will investigate the ways African American and Native American writers collaborated to speak out about the injustices they experienced.

Bell to Serve as Acting Dean of CEHHS

Sherry Mee Bell, head of the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, is now acting dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Her appointment was announced January 12 by Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick and took effect immediately. She is stepping in for Dean Bob Rider, who is on medical leave.

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