Student Team Wins NASA Prize for Best Prototype Demonstration

Pasquale Castellano, NASA Langley research engineer Pat Troutman and Giuseppe Edoardo Addario
From left to right: Pasquale Castellano, NASA Langley research engineer Pat Troutman and Giuseppe Edoardo Addario (Photo: Vittorio Baraldi)

A student team representing Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, as well as the Politecnico di Milano, won Best Prototype Demonstration in the finals of NASA’s 2022 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition.

Members of the RASC-AL team
Members of the RASC-AL team with NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket in the background.

Two students from the prestigious university Politecnico di Milano, Pasquale Castellano and Giuseppe Edoardo Addario, created a virtual prototype demonstration, according to Claudia Ehringer Lucas, assistant professor of Engineering Fundamentals, who attended the competition finals as a faculty advisor for the team. The two students included details such as the sound of wind on the planet Mars, which was recorded by the Perseverance rover in 2021, she said. Each official who judged the presentation wore a virtual reality headset.

“It was amazing,” said Ehringer Lucas. “The judges were able to really ‘experience’ Mars. By using the software Unity, these two students made it possible to interact with the assets.”

In the competition, the collaborative team designed a system to produce propellant out of resources extracted from Mars. Water would be extracted from subsurface ice pockets and carbon dioxide from the planet’s atmosphere in the team’s innovative design. The prototype by Castellano and Addario illustrated how the key mechanisms work.

Both the Prescott and Daytona Beach campuses of Embry-Riddle were represented on the team. One student in Singapore from Embry-Riddle, another from Embry-Riddle Worldwide and eight students from Politecnico di Milano also participated in the finals forum, which was held in Cocoa Beach, Florida.