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The grants will allow the University to conduct materials science experiments

Cal State LA lands two NASA grants

Photo by Alina Ogle

Photo by Alina Ogle

Alina Ogle, Contributor

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Cal State LA and NASA are joining forces to conduct materials science experiments with the International Space Station. The university was recently awarded two grants through NASA’s Physical Sciences Research program totaling $840,000 in funding, and by using simulation, will examine how materials solidify under different circumstances in space, with the absence of gravity, and on earth where gravity is present.

Leading the research as a principle investigator on one grant and a co-principal investigator for the other grant is Cal State LA mechanical engineering professor Dr. Mohsen Edhraghi. Both research projects will include researchers from the University of Akron and Cleveland State University, while the studies will utilize flight experimental data from the International Space Station.

The microgravity condition in space gives scientists the opportunity to do experiments that are impossible to perform on earth, and the researchers will study the pore formation in alloys during solidification as well as the formation of microstructures during alloy solidification.  

When asked in what way this research will benefit aerospace and life on earth, Edhraghi stated, “High-strength materials are needed in various industries including aerospace, automobile, and power generation. Solidification is a very critical step of the materials manufacturing processes.” He added, “The results will be very useful for in space fabrication as well as manufacturing industries on earth.”

While competing with all the big research institutions around the country, Cal State LA was awarded the two grants from NASA in a very competitive field, and illustrates how Cal State LA is on the forefront of science research.  

“In one of the programs, only two proposals were funded; our proposal and one from Northwestern University which is ranked amongst the top five materials science programs in the world,” said Eshraghi. Adding, “This shows the level of quality and commitment at Cal State LA and our capability to compete with big schools to do top notch research.”

It’s not just the university that is excited for the opportunity to work with NASA; it’s also the students. “I think it’s cool that Cal State LA, the college that I go to, got grants from NASA.  I normally hear of bigger schools getting that type of recognition, so that’s awesome for the school,” said sophomore Sophia Delgado.

It’s a fact that science research has an impact on our everyday lives and that is not lost on senior Matt Jenkins who said, ”Science research in important and I think it’s good that Cal State LA was awarded grants to study things that could help us in the future on earth and out in space.”

Students should be excited about space research and these studies in particular because the outcomes of microgravity research in space has industrial, economic and social impacts on our everyday life. “The results of space research will be shared with industries to develop better products, processes and applications that can influence every one of us,” said Eshraghi. “This pioneering research is leading to next generation commercial metallic components and crystals. NASA’s unique materials science program allows us to develop industrial and manufacturing processes which will result in making new materials with never seen before properties.”

NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, houses the Physical Sciences Research Program. The program furthers fundamental research and applied research, which contributes to underlying space exploration technologies. Technologies that will further our journey to Mars, and Cal State LA is part of that.

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The grants will allow the University to conduct materials science experiments