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Ashtabula Campus student returns from NASA

Posted Nov. 17, 2010

Matthew Krotzer

A Kent State University at Ashtabula student recently returned from Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama after helping NASA design a Martian rover. Associate of mechtronics major Matthew Krotzer was part of a team of college students that designed, built and tested a rover for a simulated NASA contract over a three-day period.

"It was a great opportunity to work with NASA engineers and explore possible careers within the space agency," Krotzer said. "There are some future opportunities that only those with this kind of experience can get," he said.

To qualify for the trip to Marshall, Krotzer was required to complete online lessons focusing on a Martian robotics proposal. According to a NASA letter, "The selection process is very competitive and only a small percentage of applicants from across the nation are offered the opportunity to attend the onsite experience at NASA."

Krotzer said that the online lessons took a couple of months to complete. "There were four assignments due at two-week intervals," he said. Those that are invited to the onsite experience must pass the online portion with at least a grade of 93.

Once in Alabama, Krotzer joined one of four, ten-member teams competing for the simulated NASA contract.

It was real-world experience for him. The team had to design and build a working rover; on time and on budget. "The first part of the judging went well," he said. Then came the obstacle course.

"We failed the obstacle course because we didn’t have the right wheel-base to get around a couple of very large rocks," Krotzer said. "So it had to be redesigned to accommodate that," he said.

Krotzer said he learned a great deal about the space agency. "I now really understand what NASA’s place is in aerospace," he said.

He also learned the importance of the NASA Scholars program he had just completed. "I also realized how much NASA needs home grown talent," he said. "Most of the engineers are coming from other countries and there is such a sheer volume of opportunities out there," he said.