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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics


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    CONTACT: John Blacksten


    AIAA Foundation Announces Winners of Its 2015-2016 Space Design Competition
    Teams from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Sweep Top Three Places

    September 8, 2016 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation is pleased to announce the results of its annual Undergraduate Space Design Competition.

    The 2015–2016 competition asked contestants to design a low-cost asteroid precursor mission capable of identifying, robotically capturing and redirecting a small near-Earth asteroid (NEA) or a multi-ton boulder from the surface of a larger NEA to a stable orbit around the moon, where astronauts will explore it in the 2020s returning to the Earth with samples.

    The Winners are:

  • First Prize: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIU-C), Illinois, for their design“TEAM ALMA.” Team members: Michael Busch, Matthew Crisman, Jacob Denton, Andrew Holm, Samyak Shah, Andrew Slowik and Kyle Weiskircher. Zachary Putnam, faculty advisor.

  • Second Prize: UIU-C, Illinois, for their design “TEAM LoCATE.” Team members: Matt Ciasto, Joseph Lasser, Caite McCarthy, Joseph Mueller, Jeffrey Pekosh and Seth Zelman. Zachary Putnam, faculty advisor.

  • Third Prize: UIU-C, Illinois, for their design “TEAM TRIDENT.” Team members: Sabeeh Butt, Samuel Forgerson, Will Kazakis, Jiby Mamen, Scott Neuhoff and Mihir Patel. Zachary Putnam, faculty advisor.

  • The AIAA Undergraduate Student Design Competitions are a great opportunity to showcase the skills and abilities of the many talented college students currently pursuing engineering degrees,” said William Tomek, project and product engineer at NASA Langley Research Center and the contest’s head official. “The individuals on the student teams must work together to solve complex engineering problems within a constrained budget and schedule. A diverse set of design skills and analyses is required from each team, and many design trades and compromises must be examined. I am completely amazed by the proposals that were submitted by the many teams in the design competitions.” Tomek concluded, “The level of analyses and innovative ideas that were generated in this year’s competition were really outstanding. The engineering talent available for the workforce in the future looks really bright.

    For more information on the AIAA Foundation Undergraduate Space Design Competition, please contact Rachel Dowdy at 703.264.7577 or

    About the AIAA Foundation
    The AIAA Foundation seeks to “make it exciting, make it empowering, and make it fun.” That simple, compelling philosophy drives the Foundation’s commitment to math, science, and technology education. The AIAA Foundation offers a wealth of resources to support educators from K–12 through university: scholarships, classroom grants, design competitions, and student conferences, improving scientific literacy and advancing the arts and sciences of aerospace. For more information on the AIAA Foundation and its programs for students, teachers, and professionals, please visit



    About AIAA
    AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. With more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 500, Reston, VA 20191-4344
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551