YSU Students Working to Help Power Lunar City

By HANNAH WERLE, English and Journalism Major at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Graduating seniors in Youngstown State University’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics spent the spring semester working with NASA, researching and designing a method to power a lunar city.

As a part of their senior capstone, electrical engineering majors Courtney Frye, Ina Walker and Kristen Grunden designed a microgrid that would use renewable energy to power a city on the moon.

Their research was conducted in association with NASA’s Artemis Missions, in which NASA plans to send the first woman and person of color to the moon. Another of NASA’s goals with the Artemis Missions is to establish the first prolonged presence on the moon, which has been dubbed the lunar city. The students worked with the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to design a method of generating and reusing electricity to maintain this lunar city.

Frye said the experience was different from the others she’s had in her field.

“In my previous experiences, someone would tell me what to make for the product, then I would build it and be done,” Frye said. “When I worked with NASA, it was a project in which we were creating everything on our own. There were different research parameters, but I was developing it myself, which was a cool experience.”

Walker said the experience was a valuable chance to network and to work on a product in a professional setting. She also explained how YSU’s STEM departments have helped her learn and find opportunities.

“The STEM Careers, Internships and Co-ops Office does a really good job of showing us opportunities and giving us the resources to seek [the opportunities] out,” Walker said. “Sometimes they even help us personally connect with companies and organizations.”

Frye said the experienced professors at YSU have helped to guide her while she looked for jobs and internships.

“Regarding learning at YSU overall, it was especially nice working with professors who had industry experience beforehand,” Frye said. “Some of our professors have actually been out in the field, and they were able to tell us what to expect and how things are going to work.”

Robert Caven, the faculty advisor for their capstone, said the Electrical and Computer Engineering department has an Industry Advisory Board, which works with NASA to create possible projects for graduating seniors.

“We try to maintain continuity of projects, so that next year’s senior teams can follow up on this year’s projects, where applicable,” Caven said.

Caven said he hopes the projects the board creates will give students hands-on experience or even internships and job offers.

“Senior projects give every student some experience in working on real-world – or in NASA’s case, real out-of-this-world – engineering problems and puts students into contact with potential employers,” Caven said.

While they will not be continuing their work with NASA, both Walker and Frye have found career opportunities after graduation.

Frye is working at General Electric in Pittsburgh, Pa., after graduation. After an internship with the company in the summer of 2022, which she maintained throughout the school year, Frye was offered a permanent position with GE.

Walker is interning at Ultium Cells after being encouraged by a professor to apply.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.