- Carthage College
When Samantha (Kreppel) Alberts was a physics student at Carthage, she helped design and build experiments for NASA as part of the Carthage Microgravity Team. She conducted that research aboard NASA’s microgravity aircraft, the Weightless Wonder, through NASA’s Systems Engineering Educational Discovery program, or SEED.
Today, Ms. Alberts is still designing experiments for NASA, but instead of theWeightless Wonder, they’ll be conducted somewhere a bit higher—the International Space Station. Ms. Alberts is working directly with Purdue University’s Dr. Steven Collicott to create an experiment that could help provide data on how fluid changes shapes inside tubes in a zero-G environment. The research gathered would help improve the design of spacecraft systems that rely on fluids and gases to act in a certain way, such as life-support equipment and fuel tanks.
“Participating in the NASA SEED program is what ignited my passion for space research,” Ms. Alberts said. “The Carthage 2010 SEED research was a launch pad for my fluid dynamics work with Dr. Collicott.”
Ms. Alberts’ life has been non-stop since she graduated from Carthage in May 2010. She presented her Carthage senior thesis at the Committee on Space Research Conference in Germany, got married, and took a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After a year off, she and her husband, Brian, both decided to pursue graduate school. He is pursuing a master’s degree in history; she chose aerospace engineering.
She is currently finishing up her master’s thesis and plans to take the qualifying exams for admittance to Purdue’s doctoral program. Like many students in her field, she is wrestling with the decision to work in the industry or in academia. This summer, she will intern at an aerospace company to get some experience, which will hopefully help her make the decision.
“Ultimately, my goal is to have a lasting impact on microgravity fluid dynamics and heat transfer research wherever I end up,” she said.