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Union County College Team Chosen for Prestigious NASA Challenge

Union students Antonio Mena, Bruce Aranda, Dmytro Govdan, and Michael Kirkland in a lab at the College’s Cranford campus.

CRANFORD – Union County College is proud to announce that a team of four engineering students have been chosen to participate in NASA’s Micro-G Next Challenge Artemis Program. Union’s team is one of only two community colleges selected to compete in this category, which has a total of 20 teams, and includes teams from universities such as Cornell, Columbia, University of Texas, Ohio State, University of Alabama, University of Nebraska, and Arizona State.

Union’s team is comprised of four students: Michael Kirkland of Westfield, Bruce Aranda of Elizabeth, Dmytro Govdan of Summit, and Antonio Mena of Cranford. Our students submitted a proposal for the Lunar Sample Coring Drill competition which if chosen, will be used on the Artemis mission to drill samples from the moon’s surface.

The young men on our team are now in the process of building their drill which will be tested at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at the Sonny Carter Training Facility near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. The NBL is the large pool where astronauts train for future missions.

“For engineering students interested in working for NASA, this is the experience of a lifetime, and we are so proud of our students for being chosen for this competition,” stated Union County College President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “I thank the leadership in our engineering faculty for the guidance and instruction they’ve provided to assist our students with achieving their goal of building an effective coring drill.”

Union County College Associate Professor of Physics/Engineering Nicholas Gilbert is serving as the Head Coach to the team. Associate Professior of Engineering Jennifer Ebert serves as the research and technical advisor to the team. Please consider supporting the fundraising campaign to send Union County College’s team to NASA this spring: www.ucc.edu/ucc2nasa