Regina Pynn Engineers Life-Saving Aerospace Device
Regina Pynn '11, who came to Stevens to study Mechanical Engineering, dove into so much more in the college experience through cooperative education opportunities, student organizations, and Senior Design. Through Stevens co-op program, she was able to pursue her passion for space systems engineering, working at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and aerospace supplier Hamilton Sundstrand, which she plans to join after graduation as a project engineer working with aircraft engines. For her achievements inside and outside the classroom, Regina was named the NJ Cooperative Education Student of the Year for 2011.
Regina was able to apply her industry learning experiences to a Senior Design project that developed a life-saving device for astronauts dubbed the Remotely Operable Inspection Craft (ROIC). Advised by Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Eui-Hyeok (EH) Yang, the ROIC is intended to prevent a tragedy like the space shuttle Columbia disaster of 2003. A small, reusable system, the ROIC was designed be easily deployed to capture images of spacecraft exteriors to assess damages suffered in liftoff or flight. The craft supplants expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous methods, such as a spacewalk or rendezvous with another orbital satellite, such as the International Space Station.
Tasked to design a system that allows the ROIC to rotate in space on three axes, the team chose to use reaction wheels, proven technology used to position the Hubble Telescope and other satellites. Regina explains the process: "If you use a power drill, you feel it try to move your arm because the motor is spinning, trying to create a counter-spin. In space, there is nothing to push against, so you can use that counter-spin to rotate a vehicle." The team came up with a system of three rings within the ball, each connected to a motor, which provides the angular momentum along a specific axis. This allows the ROIC to easily pivot to face the direction of suspected damage to a spacecraft.
Though she dabbled in other areas of mechanical engineering, including working with Dr. Yong Shi on developing nanofiber technology to save lives by detecting cancer cells and removing blood clots from stroke victims, Regina found her true passion in aerospace, and is primed for Hamilton Sundstrand. "My experience with co-op made me appreciate the scale and scope of the technical challenges in the aerospace industry," Regina says. "I became an engineer so I could work on world-changing, cutting-edge technology projects, and I can find no better place to do that work than aerospace."
In addition to Mechanical Engineering, Regina also pursued a Master of Engineering degree in Systems Engineering with a graduate certificate in Space Systems Engineering, as well as a minor in Pre-Law and Public Policy. Regina also demonstrated leadership in student organizations, serving as Editor-in-Chief of the campus newspaper, The Stute, as well as Stevens literary magazine, Red Shift, which she founded. Regina also served as president, vice president, and secretary of the Residence Hall Association, was a varsity athlete on the equestrian team, and joined the Western Equestrian Club team.