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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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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 UH chapter of Tau Beta Pi – Texas Epsilon (TBP) is hosting an information session with representatives of INEOS, the fourth largest global chemicals company, on Wednesday, February 27, in the Science and Research Building 1 on campus. The presenters will be Bob Sokol, chief financial officer of INEOS Oligomers and Oxide, and Fred Rulander, chief operating officer of INEOS Oxide North America.