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Frontiers Research Program

Out of this world opportunity

Drake State is proud to have been selected by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to collaborate in the Moon-to-Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology program. Drake State is the first community college and only historically Black community college to receive a cooperative agreement award from Marshall’s CAN opportunity.

After receiving the CAN in September 2020, Drake State established the Frontiers Research Program, which houses and manages all aspects of the related research and curriculum development. An advisory board including technical experts, NASA officials and community leaders was also created to provide technical expertise and support to the Frontiers team.

Faculty and student interns from Drake State’s Advanced Manufacturing Division make up the Frontiers team. Their work is twofold: test materials and processes used in 3D printing technology to help develop construction techniques suitable for building landing pads, roads, and other large structures on Earth and in space, and to develop curriculum for training a new workforce of technicians specialized in 3D construction techniques.

The research project was funded through NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP). Students must be 16 years old and enrolled at Drake State in the Advanced Manufacturing program to be eligible for student internships through the Frontiers Research Program. The first cohort of two student interns completed the program in May 2021, and the second cohort began in the Fall 2021 semester.