Penn State NASA challenge team advances, to be featured on Japanese TV


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, will be on the University Park campus Jan. 22 to film the Penn State interdisciplinary team that has advanced to the third phase of NASA’s $3.1-million 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.

The Phase 3: On-Site Habitat Competition boasts a grand prize of $500,0000 for the winner of the head-to-head competition, which will be held April 29 at Caterpillar Inc.’s Edward Demonstration and Learning Center in Peoria, Illinois.

The Penn State team, named PennStateDen@Mars, is led by Stuckeman School faculty members Shadi Nazarian, associate professor of architecture, and José Duarte, the Stuckeman Chair in Design Innovation and director of the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing. The team also includes Sven Bilén, professor of engineering design, electrical engineering, and aerospace engineering and head of the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP); Aleksandra Radlińska, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering; Ali Memari, Bernard and Henrietta Hankin Chair of Residential Construction (architectural engineering) and director of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center; Nicholas Meisel, assistant professor of engineering design and mechanical engineering; and Randall Bock, assistant research professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

The NHK footage will appear in an upcoming episode of “Cosmic Front Next,” an astronomical documentary series that explores the topic of outer space and culture. The episode will feature the NASA 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a Centennial Challenges Competition, which calls for inventors to design a human habitat that can be 3D-printed autonomously on Mars using indigenous or recycled materials.

According to the NASA website, the goal of the competition is “…to build a 3D-printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars. The multi-phase challenge is designed to advance the construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond.”

The PennStateDen@Mars team was previously awarded $150,000 for its second-place finish in the third level of Phase 2: Structural Member Competition and another $33,000 for its second-place finish in the foundation construction stage to get it through the final two phases of the competition.


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Pamela Krewson Wertz



The School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP) delivers effective engineering education through active, collaborative, project-based, and professionally oriented classroom experiences. SEDTAPP offers a variety of programs that partner faculty, students, and industry in the study of real-life engineering problems. Our programs teach students to solve real-life problems with innovative solutions. 

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