July 16, 2015 by Vicki L. Nisbett and Amanda Bradford, NMSU News Center
The Air Force Research Laboratory has chosen New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center to pilot its Young Entrepreneur Program, aimed at helping student entrepreneurs commercialize technology that is important to the research lab. AFRL has awarded Arrowhead a $50,000 grant to start the program. In addition, AFRL scientists and engineers will mentor the students as they ready their technology for commercial use.
Arrowhead Center has selected two students – Sasi Prabhakaran, a mechanical engineering doctoral student and Taylor Burgett, who is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering – to take part in the pilot program. The two are working together to commercialize technology developed by Prabhakaran and professor Amit Sanyal of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. The selected technology, an adaptive singularity-free control moment gyroscope, has the potential to be a cost-effective and power-saving solution to improve the precision movement of spacecraft.
Earlier this year, the team also won $30,000 in seed funding for the technology through Arrowhead’s Launch proof-of-concept competition, which is supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s i6 Challenge program.
“We are pleased to be able to provide New Mexico students greater opportunity to take technology and innovation being developed right here in our state and find a market for it,” said Casey DeRaad, director of AFRL New Mexico’s Technology Engagement Center. “We are confident that our Young Entrepreneur Program will help create business and jobs here in New Mexico and give our best and brightest students incentive to stay here.”
Student entrepreneurs will also receive guidance and coaching from Arrowhead Center’s student incubator Studio G.
“AFRL’s Young Entrepreneur Program is a tremendous opportunity for our students to work with a top-notch research lab,” Studio G Director Kramer Winingham said. “I’m excited to see what they will be able to accomplish. I believe we have all the pieces in place to succeed.”
NMSU’s Sanyal said the device being developed is an example of how good engineering science can lead to good engineering technology.
“What began as an intellectual effort at better understanding the dynamics of these complex devices used for attitude control of spacecraft,” Sanyal said, “evolved into a novel design for these devices that retains all their advantages while doing away with their disadvantages.”
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the Air Force’s only organization wholly dedicated to leading the discovery, development and integration of warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace. AFRL is comprised of nine directorates located across the country. AFRL New Mexico in Albuquerque is the home of two of those directorates: Directed Energy and Space Vehicles.
The Young Entrepreneurs Program is funded and managed by AFRL New Mexico’s Technology Engagement Center. For more information, visit afrlnewmexico.com.
For more information about the adaptive singularity-free control moment gyroscope and Arrowhead’s Studio G and Launch programs, visit arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu.