AIAA Foundation Announces Results of Its Life Sciences Team Design Competition Written 19 October 2017

John Blacksten

October 19, 2017 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation is pleased to announce the results of its 2016–2017 Life Sciences Team Design Competition.

The competition asked teams to design an exploration, transportation and logistical support base on the Martian moon Phobos, capable of being used as a jumping-off point for human exploration missions to the surface of Mars.

The winners are:

  • First Prize: University of Houston, Houston, Texas. Team members: Timothy Bishop, Victor Kitmanyen, Thomas Lagarde, and Zachary Taylor. Dr. Olga Bannova, faculty advisor. The team received a prize of $500.

  • Second Prize: University of Vermont, Vermont. Team members: Emmie Bolt, Greg Castaldi, Sami Connolly, Duncan Hacker, Cam Ruffle-Deignan, Moritz Thali, Matthew Walton, and Jacob Wainer. Darren Hitt, faculty advisor. The team received a prize of $250.

  • Third Prize: Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. Team members: Sanjeev Adhikari, Rajan Bhandari, Raj Kumar Gurung, and Arjun Magar. Sudip Bhattrai, faculty advisor. The team received a prize of $125.

“Successful human exploration of Mars faces many challenges, among them providing logistical support to a team of explorers on the Martian surface,” said Sandy Magnus, AIAA executive director. “One potential solution is the establishment of a support base on Mars’ moon Phobos. The designs we received for such a base from the competing teams were both captivating and imaginative, each an example of the creativity and forward-looking vision that the aerospace community is known for. The AIAA Foundation thanks all of the students who took part in this event and congratulates the winners.”

“The AIAA design competitions give the students an opportunity to use their developing engineering skills to propose a solution to a real, state-of-the-art, and relevant engineering problem, said Danielle Soban, the competition’s head judge and lecturer in aerospace engineering at Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom. “The submissions are continuously of a very high standard, and competition for the top slots is very fierce. This attests to the hard work and talent of our next generation of engineers, as well as indicates the quality of our university-level engineering education and the dedication of our educators. We have a diverse group of volunteer judges from academia, industry and government who truly enjoy assessing the submissions and freely give of their time to do so.” Soban concluded: “This link between the current generation of aerospace engineers and the upcoming generation is one that makes the AIAA design competitions particularly relevant.”

Learn more about the AIAA Foundation Design Competitions.

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 
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 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,, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.


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