Sandia National Labs Academic Alliance Collaboration Report 2020-2021


On April 16, 2020, participants in the Third Annual Senior Design Bonanza were challenged to design, prototype, test, and produce a launch-profile detection system. The system, a Flight Accelerometer Switch (FAS), was to act as the payload of an EggTosser rocket. The FAS (roughly the size of a chicken egg) had to operate as a mechanically actuated switch that would record flight data onto an on-board SD card after it experienced a specified acceleration. Each academic year, Sandia employees create a mechanical design challenge for student teams to solve. Student teams are then matched with a Sandia mentor who provides technical feedback and expertise throughout the year. This collaboration engages students with Sandia in a relevant challenge while they earn academic credit, plus it fosters research collaborations and opens the door for future hires. At the conclusion of the 2020 Bonanza, mechanical engineering students from six universities (UT Austin, University of Georgia (UGA), Rochester Institute of Technology, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T), Howard University, and University of Colorado Boulder) showed off their final FAS results in a virtual design review where Sandia staff and university faculty offered feedback. “Every year, I’m impressed with the out-of-the-box thinking that the students

Pictured: Flight accelerometer switch: A mechanically actuated switch that records flight data upon experiencing a specified acceleration.


Sandia Academic Alliance Program

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