Sky’s the Limit for NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Awardees

Sky’s the Limit for NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Awardees

sky with rocket launch

Along with Assistant Professor Djedjiga Belfadel, PhD, of the School of Engineering, three Fairfield University students heeded the Fall 2018 Call for Proposals and were awarded a total of $17,000 in grant funding: Jovelt Dorsainvil ’19, Russell Moore ’19, and Katherine Unfried ’19.

The Connecticut Space Grant funding will truly assist our school in preparing the next generation of STEM professionals, by exposing students to scientific research on projects that will include the implementation of cutting-edge learning algorithms on real-world problems.

— Djedjiga Belfadel, PhD, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering

“The Connecticut Space Grant funding will truly assist our school in preparing the next generation of STEM professionals, by exposing students to scientific research on projects that will include the implementation of cutting-edge learning algorithms on real-world problems,” said Djedjiga Belfadel, PhD, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The research agenda of Dr. Belfadel's awarded project, Robust Approach for Space-Based Imaging Sensors Alignment,” is to develop algorithmic and computational models to enhance the tracking quality of a Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS). The goal of this project is to contribute to U.S. national security by protecting our country, allies, and deployed forces against all ranges of enemy ballistic missiles in all phases of flight. 

Support from the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium will assist Dr. Belfadel in the development of a new laboratory built upon her extensive research experience in space-based tracking systems, and her $10,000 grant will go toward providing stipends for multiple students to work on research projects related to space technology and target tracking.

Russell Moore ’19 was awarded a $5,000 undergraduate research fellowship for his research project, “Pixel-Level Image Fusion Algorithms to EO/IR Multi-Sensor System,” which strives to develop an improved algorithm for target tracking, using the fusion of multiple images from electro-optical sensors.  “Since the Cold War, the United States has relied on reconnaissance satellites for the safety of its citizens,” Moore wrote in his abstract. “Our research will add to this effort.”

Satellite imaging can provide surveillance of an area and capture data inaccessible through other methods. Moore believes that improving this technology can also benefit global efforts to study and monitor our planet.

Katherine Unfried ’19, a bioengineering major with a minor in biochemistry, was awarded a $1,000 grant for a senior design project titled “Lend a Hand (Lightweight Low Noise Prosthetic Hand),” which will be developed by a team of engineering classmates. 

“The goal of designing something completely silent," explained Unfried, "sets us apart from what is typically on the market because it requires us to use non-mechanical components: no gears, no fans, and none of the typical actuators that control movement in most prosthetic hands.”

Unfried pointed out that the team’s prototype aims to be myoelectric-controlled, meaning that it will be externally powered by the same neural signals that would control an actual human hand. “We are excited for the possibility of building multiple prototypes or iterations of our design,” said Unfried, who credits the Connecticut Space Grant with allowing them to manufacture a prosthesis “to the best design, rather than the cheapest design.”

Chemistry major Jovelt Dorsainvil ’19 was granted a $1,000 Student Travel Award, to be used to attend an academic conference in the spring. Dorsainvil has been conducting research with Jillian Smith-Carpenter, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, since last spring. Her current project focuses on developing peptides that can self-assemble into larger structures. “Essentially my goal is to add different groups to these peptides in order to create a supramolecular structure that can catalyze certain reactions,” Dorsainvil said.

“I have been working on this project for a few months now," she continued. "I developed the project in the summer; I started the peptide synthesis this fall. I will work on characterization of the catalysis during the spring semester and will present the results at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Orlando, FL in April 2019.”

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Last modified: 11-16-18 11:16 AM

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