College of DuPage Alumnus Selected for NASA NSTGRO

by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Center for Hypersonics & Entry Systems Studies 
7/14/2021

Michael Gosma

MechSE graduate student Mitchell Gosma has been selected for NASA’s Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunity (NSTGRO) fellowship. This honor will allow Gosma to work alongside NASA scientists through visiting technologist experience as he works toward his PhD.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission directorate seeks to sponsor researchers with significant potential to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative new space technologies for U.S. science, exploration, and economic future. NASA Space Technology Graduate Researchers will perform innovative, space technology research at their respective campuses and at NASA Centers.

Gosma’s faculty advisor, MechSE associate professor Kelly Stephani, will serve as the principal investigator.

“Working with NASA has been a dream of mine for most of my college career, starting with participating in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program while attending the College of DuPage,” Gosma said. “During my undergrad at Illinois, I had the opportunity to intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where I assisted in robotic compliance testing of International Space Station flight hardware and performed robotic simulations for NASA’s Lunar Gateway. My primary goal after graduation is to join the Agency full-time as a Civil Servant.”

Gosma’s research focuses on computational modeling of carbon-based spacecraft Thermal Protection Systems, particularly on better understanding and simulating the chemical and material processes that occur to ablating TPS material as it undergoes atmospheric re-entry. Prior to the beginning of the NSTGRO fellowship, his research was sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories.

“For the NSTGRO fellowship, I’ll be working closely with NASA Ames Research Center and my NASA Technical Sponsor, Dr. Krishnan Swaminathan-Gopalan. The focus of the project will be to examine the effects of coking on carbon fibers caused by hot pyrolysis gases created during re-entry,” Gosma said. “During my time in NSTGRO, I hope to better integrate myself with the NASA community, particularly via the annual internship experience, and make a lasting impact in the re-entry modeling field.”

The visiting technologist experience is an integral part of an NSTGRO award, during which the NASA Space Technology Graduate Researchers perform their research at NASA Centers. Through this experience, NSTGRO graduate researchers will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with leading engineers and scientists in their chosen area of research; they will be able to take advantage of broader and/or deeper space technology research opportunities directly related to their academic and career objectives, acquire a more detailed understanding of the potential end applications of their space technology efforts, and directly disseminate their research results within the NASA technical community.

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