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With $5M NASA Grant, University of Houston to Open Aerospace Engineering Research Center

Center to Extend Human Presence on the Moon and Mars, Promote 21st-century Aerospace Engineering Education

By Laurie Fickman 713-743-8454

With a multi-million-dollar grant from NASA, the University of Houston will open an aerospace engineering research center to support the space agency's strategic goal of extending human presence on the moon and Mars for sustainable, long-term space exploration, development and utilization.  

At UH, ongoing space research - like this in the space architecture lab of Olga Bannova - allows students to take a virtual spacewalk in a simulated virtual reality environment. 

The center will be called NASA MIRO Inflatable Deployable Environments and Adaptive Space Systems (IDEAS2) Center at UH. The $4,996,136 grant is funded by the NASA Office of STEM Engagement Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) program. MUREP also supports another of NASA’s goals - to develop a talented and diverse aerospace workforce and build the next generation of space explorers. NASA is awarding approximately $45 million to 21 higher education institutions to help build capacity for research.

“The vision of the IDEAS2 Center is to become a premier national innovation hub that propels NASA-centric, state-of-the-art research and promotes 21st-century aerospace education,” said Karolos Grigoriadis, Moores Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Aerospace Engineering Graduate Program at UH, who spearheaded the effort and will lead the center.  

Researchers at the IDEAS2 Center will work closely with the Johnson Space Center to contribute to the robust, scalable orbital and surface infrastructure and operational autonomy that will enable humans to live and work in space, establish a lasting presence on and around the moon, and pave the way toward Mars exploration.

Karolos Grigoriadis, Moores Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Aerospace Engineering Graduate Program at UH, will lead the new center for aerospace engineering research.

“Our mission is to establish a sustainable nexus of excellence in aerospace engineering research and education supported by targeted multi-institutional collaborations, strategic partnerships and diverse educational initiatives,” said Grigoriadis. 

The center will collaborate with Texas A&M University, Stanford University, Houston Community College, San Jacinto College and industrial partners Boeing, Axiom Space, Bastion Technologies and Lockheed Martin. 

“The center’s research-integrated educational activities will encompass graduate, undergraduate and middle/high school students, providing opportunities for research, experiential learning and STEM engagement in aerospace to excite their imagination, enrich their education and promote their pathway to aerospace careers,” said Grigoriadis. 

Associate directors of the center include Dimitris Lagoudas, professor of aerospace engineering, Texas A&M University and Olga Bannova, University of Houston's research professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Space Architecture Graduate Program. 


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