The NASA GAS Program: A Stepping Stone to Education

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Abstract

The opportunity to fly an experiment aboard the space shuttle can be a great motivator for learning engineering and science. The nonconventional nature of experimentation in space provides a medium in which faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students can work together, discuss science and technology, and all contribute in a meaningful way. The NASA Get-Away-Special program provided such an opportunity to WPI faculty and students in the fall of 1982. The result was an interdisciplinary effort that required students and faculty to rethink and relearn basic axioms in science and engineering, and to be innovative in creating new, or adapting old, technologies. The effort produced a flight ready GAS-can, and the lessons learned provided the cornerstone for a much more expansive program to grow large crystals of zeolite in high yield in space for use in many possible industrial applications. However, even if the experiments developed were never to fly, the community of scholars that were drawn together to work and to learn would more than compensate for the effort expended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-30
Number of pages4
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1991

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