GREEN BAY –The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) has recognized two University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students for their outstanding academic work. James Vasquez has been awarded the STEM Bridge Scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year, and Justin Rasmussen is recipient of the Elijah Balloon Payload Fellowship award — June 1 to August 13 at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in Milwaukee, Wis.
Both students are Green Bay natives and have been interested in aeronautics and space-related topics since they were young. They also will have the opportunity to attend the 2016 Annual Wisconsin Space Conference, held at UW-Superior, in August.
The STEM Bridge Scholarship supports outstanding sophomore undergraduate minority students who are pursuing undergraduate, space-related studies. Recipients are awarded $1,000 for the academic year.
Vasquez, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering technology, has a history working on similar types of projects. He has participated and volunteered at the Barlow Planetarium Summer Space Camp, where he helped build model rockets and researched astronomy topics.
“I have been enamored with space and everything related to aeronautics and flying. It will always be a dream of mine to float in space,” Vasquez said. “Being part of NASA’s mission in any way would be a dream come true. I hope to contribute my skills and training in manufacturing and design to propel mankind into a new-age of space travel,” he said.
The Elijah High-Altitude Balloon Launch Program is an innovative NASA project that provides opportunities for students to fly their science experiments in a near-space environment. Student teams will design and build science payloads to be launched and retrieved from a high-altitude balloon that will ascend up to 100,000 feet or more before bursting. Team members receive a $4,000 stipend and present their results at the Wisconsin Space conference.
“Ever since I was very young I have been fascinated by the vastness of space,” Rasmussen said. “I remember being in awe while watching the early Mars rovers land. As a species we are rare, privileged, and unique. We have the intelligence and ability to unify and accomplish so much more. The exploration of the universe is the one task that ties us all together for our own survival and growth.”
Rasmussen is a non-traditional student working toward an engineering degree and eventually hopes to study astronautics engineering, aeronautics engineering or engineering physics.
“Our carbon footprint is becoming increasingly critical, so I would like to work toward solving that,” he said. “We need many more scientists and engineers on this planet.”
For more information regarding the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, visit https://spacegrant.carthage.edu/