Ten years of student innovation: It’s an M:2:I anniversary

Students demonstrating MAVRIC Mars Rover
Students on the MAVRIC Mars Rover team demonstrate their latest version of the craft at the M:2:I Spring Expo

Over the last ten years more than 1,000 students have taken part in the free-flow of design creativity that introduces some of the complexity of systems and the concept of design optimization – skills they will carry forth throughout their careers.

In the words of M:2:I director Matthew Nelson, “Students have the opportunity to build, to break, and learn from successes and failures.”

Currently there are  15 different projects in M:2:I, that vary from rockets to cube satellites to high-altitude balloons, to UAVs to a Mars rover and more.

CyLaunch rocketry team at NASA Student Launch in Huntsville, AL
M:2:I’s CyLaunch rocketry team at the NASA Student Launch competition in Huntsville, Alabama. The team took second place in the national event.

Some teams enter prestigious competitions, and some work closely with industry leaders at top-shelf aerospace businesses in developing their projects. Industrial sponsors and major supporters of the program include The Boeing Company and Collins Aerospace. The Iowa Space Grant Consortium has also provided grant funds for many of the projects.

Students are encouraged to join M:2:I as early as possible in their ISU careers. Many sign up in their freshman year and continue involvement throughout their enrollment. M:2:I is an interdisciplinary program, and although the majority of students who participate are aerospace engineering majors, a number of mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering students also take part each year. The program has also hosted meteorology, math and business students, among others. Upon joining M:2:I students sign up for either the AerE 294 (freshman and sophomore) or AerE 494 (juniors and seniors) course.

Students demonstrate the NASA Micro-G NExT team's device
Students demonstrate the NASA Micro-G NExT team’s device they will take to the second round of competition at NASA’s Johnson Space Center

M:2:I has had many accomplishments this academic year. The Micro-G NeXT group, which recently advanced to the second round of a NASA-coordinated competition, is one of just a handful of teams from around the country to make the cut to the finals. The Micro-G NeXT competition tasked teams to design and manufacture a reusable lunar surface anchoring device.

Another team, the MAVRIC Mars Rover team, was selected to attend the University Rover Competition. Only 36 teams out of over 60 national and international teams were selected to attend this competition.

The M:2:I CyLaunch rocketry team recently placed second in the NASA-sponsored Student Launch Competition in Huntsville, Alabama – the strongest-ever showing by an Iowa State team.

M:2:I balloon launch
An M:2:I student team prepares to launch a high altitude balloon.

A team of students will be flying a payload aboard HASP, a high altitude balloon flown by NASA, in the fall 2022 semester.

Learn more about M:2:I in a tenth anniversary factoid and on the M:2:I web site.