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UH Cougarnauts Take a Ride on the Vomit Comet

By: 

Melanie Ziems
Members of the UH Cougarnauts team experienced almost zero-gravity in NASA's "Vomit Comet"
Members of the UH Cougarnauts team experienced almost zero-gravity in NASA's "Vomit Comet"

Houston’s ABC13 KTRK news station followed some University of Houston students into outer space this November – or, at least into zero gravity. The UH “Cougarnauts” team, comprised of Cullen College of Engineering students, were chosen as part of an elite group to participate in NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, where they performed an assigned experiment during 25-second bouts of weightlessness in NASA’s reduced gravity aircraft: the “Vomit Comet.”

The Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program is intended to increase minority student interest in math and sciences fields.

KTRK cameras accompanied the students on their mission, during which the plane flies over the Gulf of Mexico and performs nine free-falls, which creates a sensation as close to zero-gravity as possible on Earth. “It was amazing. Time went by fast, it was so much fun. We learned so much,” said Aashini Patel, UH Biomedical Engineering major. The UH students studied the effects of freezing water in zero-gravity conditions.

According to KTRK reporter Kevin Quinn, NASA expects that these experiments could play into the design and implementation of its next generation spaceships.

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The proud graduates earned: 427 bachelor’s degrees, 141 master’s degrees and 45 doctorate degrees.

The keynote address was delivered by Chang Oh Turkmani, managing director at the Mega Company and a member of the Engineering Leadership Board (ELB).

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The UH Cullen College of Engineering celebrated excellence in the ranks at its recent faculty and staff meeting. Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Dean of the College, handed out numerous awards recognizing faculty, staff and students for their outstanding contributions in teaching, research and service.

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