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CSUN Gets Research Grant From NASA

September 16, 2000|ROBERTO J. MANZANO

Cal State Northridge has been awarded a $2-million NASA grant that will allow minority students to study how to prevent failures in electronic equipment used in space programs, officials said Friday.

The four-year research grant is one of the most important awarded to CSUN in recent years, said Bezad Bavarian, a professor in the university's department of manufacturing systems, engineering and management and the project's principal investigator.

Each year fellowships will be awarded to 12 to 14 full-time engineering and physics students, mainly undergraduate juniors and seniors, Bavarian said.

Research at CSUN will be done under the auspices of the Materials Science Research Center, which was recently established to foster cooperation between the engineering and physics faculty and students.

Students will work with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Bavarian said, and travel to conferences to present their findings. They will be mentored by faculty members and also will work with visiting scientists and scholars, he said.

"It will create an advanced learning environment for underrepresented minorities. It's an opportunity to attract highly qualified students," Bavarian said, adding that there is a shortage of qualified engineers and scientists for this research.

Students will use powerful microscopes to analyze causes of defects in submicrochips used in spacecraft, Bavarian said. They will study chips that have been subjected to such harsh space conditions as radiation, gamma rays and extreme heat or cold.

Students will also create computer models to understand the cause of equipment failures. The research will try to develop more reliable space program systems, Bavarian said. "One billion in tax dollars wouldn't be wasted because of a small failure," he said.

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