SAC MESA Students Take a Range of Projects for the Summer

June 28, 2018

Russell Guerrero

The Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achieving (MESA) Center at San Antonio College is busy with activity this summer. Several MESA students are hard at work on a trio of projects as part of undergraduate research: 

Investigation of possible impact site by meteor near Uvalde, Texas 
SAC students are investigating a possible impact site created by a meteorite millions of years ago in an area near Uvalde, Texas called Bee Bluff. The site was first identified as a possible impact area in the 1970s. Led by geologist and adjunct faculty member Dwight Jurena, the students are surveying a three-mile area, looking for shocked quartz (caused by the initial impact), taking soil samples, and using a gravimeter to measure gravity load of the earth. Less than 200 sites worldwide have been confirmed as meteorite impact sites.  

White Winged Doves displaying their wings as a defense mechanism 
A pair of engineering students are working with biologist Alayne Fronimos, adjunct professor at SAC, to study white winged doves. In particular they will study how the doves display their oppositional wing (or hind wing) as a defensive move during confrontations with other doves. The team wants to study why the birds do this. They believe it may have to do with the size or shape of the white band on the wing. The students will design an operate a decoy dove to test their theory.   

One of the students, Krystal Paul, will take a week off from the project in late June in order to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) onsite experience held at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. The four-day event offers the opportunity for community college students to interact with NASA engineers and to learn more about careers in science and engineering. 

SAC Motorsport Team begins plans for new car powered by hydrogen cell 
For the last two years students in the SAC Motorsport team have designed and built vehicles powered by a hydrogen fuel cell to compete in the Shell Eco Marathon, held annually in different parts of the country. The competition is not about speed but about fuel efficiency, how far you can go on the least amount of fuel. SAC students have had early success placing 3 rd and 4 th  in their category the times they have competed. Now the team will make a fundamental change to the electrical system to the next version of the car and will later design a new chassis for the Eco Marathon in April 2019. 

All the research projects are taking place now until Aug. 13

Top photo: an aerial view of the Bee Bluff area, the location of a possible meteorite impact site.