ARMD - University Student Research Challenge (USRC)

University Student Research Challenge (USRC)

University Student Research Challenge (USRC) seeks to challenge students to propose new ideas/concepts that are relevant to NASA Aeronautics. USRC will provide students, from accredited U.S. colleges or universities, with grants for their projects and with the challenge of raising cost share funds through a crowdfunding campaign. The process of creating and implementing a crowdfunding campaign acts as a teaching accelerator - requiring students to act like entrepreneurs and raise awareness about their research among the public.

The solicitation goal can be accomplished through project ideas such as advancing the design, developing technology or capabilities in support of aviation, by demonstrating a novel concept, or enabling advancement of aeronautics-related technologies.


Eligibility: NASA funding is available to all accredited U.S. institutions of higher education (e.g. universities, four-year colleges, community colleges, or other two-year institutions). Students must be currently enrolled (part-time or full-time) at the institution. NASA has no set expectations as to the team size. The number of students participating in the  investigation is to be determined by the scope of the project and the student Team Leader.

The USRC solicitation is currently OPEN! Proposals are next due by June 22, 2023. Please visit NSPIRES for more information. 

USRC Q&A/Info Session and Proposal Workshop  will be held on May 8, 2023 at 2PM EST ahead of the USRC Cycle 3 Submission deadline in June 2023. Click here to join the Q&A


Please email us at if you have any questions or to schedule a 1 on 1.  

USRC Awards

Advancing Aerospace Materials Design through High-Fidelity Computational Peridynamic Modeling and Modified SVET Validation of Corrosion Damage (California State University, Channel Islands)

Modeling electrochemical corrosion nonlocally and combining efforts from bond-based and state-based theory.

Student Team: Trent Ruiz (Team Lead), Isaac Cisneros, Curtis Hauck

Faculty Mentor: Cynthia Flores

Selected: 2023

Swarm Micro UAVs for Area Mapping in GPS-denied Areas (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)

Using swarm robotics to map complex environments and harsh terrain with Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs)

Student Team: Daniel Golan (Team Lead), Stanlie Cerda-Cruz, Kyle Fox, Bryan Gonzalez, Ethan Thomas

Faculty Mentor: Sergey V. Drakunov

Selected: 2023

AeroFeathers—Feathered Airfoils Inspired by the Quiet Flight of Owls (Wichita State University)

Creating new propeller blades and fixed wing design concepts that mimic the features of an
owl feather and provide substantial noise reduction benefits.

Student Team: William Johnston (Team Lead), Pulitha Godakawela Kankanamalage, Amulya Lomte, Maria Jose Carrillo Munoz, Brittany Wojciechowski, Laura Paige Nobles, Gabrielle Mathews

Faculty Mentor: Bhisham Sharma

Selected: 2023

Laser Energized Aerial Drone System (LEADS) for Sustained Sensing Applications (Michigan State University)

Laser based, high-efficiency optical power transfer for UAV charging for sustained flight and monitoring.

Student Team: Gavin Gardner (Team Lead), Ryan Atkinson, Brady Berg, Ross Davis, Gryson Gardner, Malachi Keener, Nicholas Michaels

Faculty Mentor: Woongkul Lee

Selected: 2023

UAM Contingency Diagnosis Toolkit (Ohio State University)

A UAM contingency diagnosis toolkit which that includes cognitive work requirements
(CWRs) for human operators, information sharing requirements, and representational designs.

Student Team: Connor Cannally (Team Lead), Izzy Furl, Luke McSherry, Abhinay Paladugu

Faculty Mentor: Martijn IJtsma

Selected: 2023

Hybrid Quadplane Search and Rescue Missions (NC A&T University)

An autonomous search and rescue quadplane UAS supported by an unmanned mobile landing platform/recharge station ground vehicle.

Student Team: Luis Landivar Olmos (Team Lead), Dakota Price, Amilia Schimmel, Sean Tisdale

Faculty Mentor: A. Homaifar

Selected: 2023

Go to crowdfunding site

Drone Based Water Sampling and Quality Testing – Special Application in the Raritan River (Rutgers University, New Brunswick)

An autonomous water sampling drone system.

Student Team: Michael Leitner (Team Lead), Xavier Garay, Mohamed Haroun, Ruchit Jathania, Caleb Lippe, Zachary Smolder, Chi Hin Tam

Faculty Mentor: Onur Bilgen

Selected: 2023

Go to site (TBD)

Development of a Low-Cost Open-Source Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing Machine – Arc One (Case Western Reserve University)

A small-scale, modular, low-cost, and open-source Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) platform.

Student Team: Vishnushankar Viraliyur Ramasamy (Team Lead), Robert Carlstrom, Bathlomew Ebika, Jonathan Fu, Anthony Lino, Garrett Tieng

Faculty Mentor: John Lewandowski

Selected: 2023

Go to site crowdfunding site 

Web Article: PhD student wins funding from NASA and develops multidisciplinary team of undergraduate students to build novel machine

Low Cost and Efficient eVTOL Platform Leveraging Opensource for Accessibility (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

Lowering the barrier of entry into eVTOL deployment and development with a low cost, efficient, and open source eVTOL platform

Student Team: Martin Arguelles-Perez (Team Lead), Benjamin Bishop, Isabella Laurito, Genaro Marcial Lorza, Eman Yonis

Faculty Mentor: Venkatesan Muthukumar

Selected: 2022

Go to site (TBD)


Applying Space-Based Estimation Techniques to Drones in GPS-Denied Environments (University Of Texas, Austin)

Taking real-time inputs from flying drones and outputting an accurate state estimation with 3-D error ellipsoid visualization

Student Team: James Mitchell Roberts (Team Lead), Lauren Byram, Melissa Pires

Faculty Mentor: Adam Nokes

Selected: 2022

Web Article: GPS-free Drone Tech Proposal Lands Undergrads Spot in NASA Challenge

Go to crowdfunding site

Go to project website


Underwing Distributed Ducted Fan ‘FanFoil’ Concept for Transformational Aerodynamic and Aeroacoustic Performance (Texas Tech University, Lubbock)

Novel highly under-cambered airfoils with electric ducted fans featuring ’samara’ maple seed inspired blades for eVTOL application

Student Team: Jack Hicks (Team Lead), Harrison Childre, Guilherme Fernandes, David Gould, Lorne Greene, Muhammad Waleed Saleem, Nathan Shapiro

Faculty Mentor: Victor Maldonado 

Selected: 2022

Web Article: Improving Ducted-Fan eVTOL Efficiency (AvWeek), Sky Taxies

Go to site (TBD)


Urban Cargo Delivery Using eVTOL Aircrafts (University Of Illinois, Chicago)

A bi-objective optimization formulation minimizing total run costs of a two-leg cargo delivery system and community noise
exposure to eVTOL operations

Student Team: Nahid Parvez Farazi (Team Lead), Amy Hofstra, Son Nguyen

Faculty Mentor: Bo Zou

Selected: 2022

Web Article: PhD student awarded NASA grant to investigate urban cargo delivery systems

Go to crowdfunding site



Congestion Aware Path Planning for Optimal UAS Traffic Management (University Of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

A feasible, provably safe, and quantifiably optimal path planning framework considering fully autonomous UAVs in urban environments

Student Team: Minjun Sung (Team Lead), Christoph Aoun, Ivy Fei, Christophe Hiltebrandt-McIntosh, Sambhu Harimanas Karumanchi, Ran Tao

Faculty Mentor: Naira Hovakimyan

Selected: 2022

Web Article: NASA funds UAV traffic management research

Go to crowdfunding site


AeroZepp: Aerostat Enabled Drone Glider Delivery System / Whisper Ascent: Quiet Drone Delivery (University of Delaware)

An aerostat enabled low-energy UAV payload delivery system

Student Team: Wesley Connor (Team Lead), Abubakarr Bah, Karlens Senatus

Faculty Mentor: Suresh Advani

Selected: 2022

Go to crowdfunding site


Sustainable Transport Research Aircraft for Test Operation (STRATO) (Rutgers University, New Brunswick)

An open source, efficiently driven, optimized Active Flow Control (AFC) enhanced control surface for UAV research platforms

Student Team: Daulton James (Team Lead), Jean Alvarez, Frederick Diaz, Michael Ferrell, Shriya Khera, Connor Magee, Roy Monge Hidalgo, Bertrand Smith

Faculty Mentor: Edward DeMauro

Selected: 2022

Go to crowdfunding site

Web Articles: SoE Students Eligible for NASA University Student Research Challenge AwardSenior Design Team Captures NASA Research Challenge

A recorded STRATO USRC Tech Talk


Dronehook: A Novel Fixed-Wing Package Retrieval System (University Of Notre Dame)

Envisioning a world where items can be retrieved from remote locations in a simple fashion from efficient fixed-wing UAVs

Student Team: Konrad Rozanski (Team Lead), Dillon Coffey, Bruce Smith, Nicholas Orr

Faculty Mentor: Jane Cleland-Huang

Selected: 2021

Go to crowdfunding site

Web Article: Notre Dame student team wins NASA research award for drone scoop and grab technology


Aerial Intra-city Delivery Electric Drones (AIDED) with High Payload Capacity (Michigan State University)

A high-payload capacity delivery drone capable of safely latching and charging on electrified public transportation systems

Student Team: Yuchen Wang (Team Lead), Hunter Carmack, Kindred Griffis, Luke Lewallen, Scott Newhard, Caroline Nicholas, Shukai Wang, Kyle White

Faculty Mentor: Woongkul Lee

Selected: 2021

Web Articles: Spartan Engineers win NASA research award and NASA Aeronautics amplificationRoss Davis & Gavin Gardner on The Guy Gordon ShowMSU Students Create Delivery Drone for NASAStudent drone project flying high with help from NASA

Go to AIDED crowdfunding site

Go to AIDED project website


Robotic Fabrication Work Cell for Customizable Unmanned Aerial Systems (Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University)

A robotic, multi-process work cell to autonomously fabricate topologically optimized UASs tailored for immediate application needs

Student Team: Tadeusz Kosmal (Team Lead), Kieran Beaumont, Om Bhavsar, Eric Link, James Lowe

Faculty Mentor: Christopher Williams

Selected: 2021

Go to crowdfunding site

RAV-FAB Project Website

Web Articles: Drones that fly away from a 3D printer: Undergraduates create science nonfiction, 3D printing breaks out of the box | VTx | Virginia Tech

NASA VT USRC Web Article: USRC Students Sees Success with Crowdfunding, NASA Grants

Publication: Hybrid additive robotic workcell for autonomous fabrication of mechatronic systems - A case study of drone fabrication - ScienceDirect

Team Social Media: Instagram: @ravfab_vt , LinkedIn: @rav-fabYouTube

recorded RAV-FAB USRC Tech Talk


Real Time Quality Control in Additive Manufacturing Using In-Process Sensing and Machine Learning (Cornell University)

A high-precision and low-cost intelligent sensor-based quality control technology for Additive Manufacturing

Student Team: Adrita Dass (Team Lead), Talia Turnham, Benjamin Steeper, Chenxi Tian, Siddharth Patel, Akula Sai Pratyush, Selina Kirubakar

Faculty Mentor: Atieh Moridi

Selected: 2021

Go to crowdfunding site

AMAS Project Website

Web Article: Students win NASA challenge with 3D-printer smart sensor

recorded USRC Tech Talk on this topic


AVIATA: Autonomous Vehicle Infinite Time Apparatus (University of California, Los Angeles)

A drone swarm system capable of carrying a payload in the air indefinitely

Student Team: Chirag Singh (Team Lead), Ziyi Peng, Bhrugu Mallajosyula, Willy Teav, David Thorne, James Tseng, Eric Wong, Axel Malahieude, Ryan Nemiroff, Yuchen Yao, Lisa Foo

Faculty Mentor: Jeff Eldredge

Selected: 2020

AVIATA Project Website

recorded USRC Tech Talk on AVIATA

The recorded poster session at the TACP Showcase 2021

Go to AVIATA crowdfunding site


Redundant Flight Control System for BVLOS UAV Operations (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)

A redundant flight control system as a “back-up” to the primary flight computer to enhance safety of sUAS

Student Team: Robert Moore (Team Lead), Joseph Ayd, and Todd Martin

Faculty Mentor: John Robbins

Selected: 2020

Web Articles: NASA Web ArticleDrone Innovation Top Embry-Riddle Entrepreneurship Competition

Follow the team's progress at

recorded USRC Tech Talk on this topic

The recorded poster session at the TACP Showcase 2021

Go to crowdfunding site


Multi-Mode Hybrid Unmanned Delivery System: Combining Fixed-Wing and Multi-Rotor Aircraft with Ground Vehicles (Rutgers University)

Extending drone delivery distance with a multi-mode hybrid delivery system

Student Team: Paul Wang (Team Lead), Nolan Angelia, Muhammet Ali Gungor

Faculty Mentor: Onur Bilgen

Selected: 2020

recorded USRC Tech Talk on this topic.

The recorded poster session at the TACP Showcase 2021

Go to crowdfunding site


AVIS: Active Vortex Inducing System for Flow Separation Control to Improve Airframe Efficiency (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Use an array of vortex generators that can be adjusted throughout flight to increase wing efficiency

Student Team: Michael Gamarnik (Team Lead), Shiva Khanna Yamamoto, Noah Mammen, Tommy Schrager, Bethe Newgent

Faculty Mentor: Kelly Griendling

Selected: 2020

Go to AVIS team site

recorded USRC Tech Talk on AVIS

The recorded poster session at the TACP Showcase 2021

NASA Web Article


Hybrid Airplanes - An Optimum and Modular Approach (California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo)

Model and test powertrain to maximize the efficiency of hybrid airplanes

Student Team: Nicholas Ogden (Team Lead), Joseph Shy, Brandon Bartlett, Ryker Bullis, Chino Cruz, Sara Entezar, Aaron Li, Zach Yamauchi

Faculty Mentor: Paulo Iscold

Selected: 2019

recorded USRC Tech Talk on this topic

The recorded poster session at the TACP Showcase 2021


ATLAS Air Transportation (South Dakota State University)

A multipurpose, automated drone capable of comfortably lifting the weight of an average person

Student Team: Isaac Smithee (Team Lead), Wade Olson, Nicolas Runge, Ryan Twedt, Anthony Bachmeier, Matthew Berg, Sterling Berg

Faculty Mentors: Marco Ciarcia, Todd Letcher

Selected: 2019
Recorded USRC Tech Talk #1 and USRC Tech Talk #2 on ATLAS

The recorded poster session at the TACP Showcase 2021


Software-Defined GPS Augmentation Network for UAS Navigation (University Of Oklahoma, Norman)

A novel solution of enhanced GPS navigation for unmanned aerial vehicles

Student Team: Robert Rucker (Team Lead), Alex Zhang, Jakob Fusselman, Matthew Gilliam
Mentors: Dr. Yan (Rockee) Zhang (Faculty Mentor), Dr Hernan Suarez (Team Technical Mentor)

Selected: 2019

recorded USRC Tech Talk on this topic

The recorded poster session at the TACP Showcase 2021

Go to crowdfunding site


UAV Traffic Information Exchange Network (Purdue University)

A blockchain-inspired secure, scalable, distributed, and efficient communication framework to support large scale UAV operations

Student Team: Hsun Chao (Team Lead) and Apoorv Maheshwari

Mentors: Daniel DeLaurentis (Faculty Mentor), Shashank Tamaskar

Selected: 2018

The recorded poster session at the TACP Showcase 2021

Web Article: Student-developed communication network for UAVs interests NASA

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