Student Accomplishments

Pursuing Excellence

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(Above: Larry Bland, Division Chair, presenting Zach Lee with his Scholarship)

John Brown University sophomore Zach Lee has been recognized by IEEE Power and Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative. The Initiative nationally recognizes undergraduate students who have declared a major in engineering, are high achievers with strong GPAs with distinctive extracurricular commitments and are committed to exploring the power and energy field. Zach will receive scholarship funds for up to three years as well as opportunities for internships and co-ops within the power and energy industry. IEEE ( is the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.

NASA Internship - Brian Plank



John Brown University student Brian Plank’s autograph is on the wings of a NASA-designed aircraft that will be displayed at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Plank, an engineering major at JBU, recently completed a summer internship at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in California. There he worked as a research associate/project manager, testing flights of a subscale flying wing aircraft.
“He wrote the flight test plans, conducted the tests and managed the flight test schedule,” the AFRC stated in a press release.
The goal of the internship was to design an aerodynamic aircraft with lower drag that would decrease fuel consumption for a cheaper and environmentally safe flight. Plank received a $6,500 Workforce Development Grant, funded by the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium, to cover his trip costs and housing costs at the NASA Armstrong Center. There is a possibility that Plank will return to the Armstrong center after graduation.
“Brian is exactly the sort of student that NASA is looking for — someone who is interested in aerospace and is looking for that next challenge, that next opportunity, that undiscovered research territory,” Al Bowers, chief scientist at NASA Armstrong Center, stated in a NASA press release.
On campus, Plank initiated the Eaglenaut Aerospace Club and is leading the JBU NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition team.

Read the full press release here.

(photo below - Brian notes that this flight is the first time in history that inboard vortices have been conclusively proven)


 NASA Internship - Zachary Huffaker

For John Brown University engineering senior, Zachary Huffaker, the words “That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind,” may not have been said in his lifetime, but still ring true as he strives to use their knowledge of complicated math and science to impact humanity.

Huffaker interned at NASA this summer for an intensive 10-week session helping the development of the space program. During his internship, he joined five different projects in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Lab in Florida. Three of the five projects involved analyzing data, modifying the mechanical structures of a robot named RASSOR (Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot) and organizing data, such as mathematical models for concrete erosion, on Project Morpheus.

Each project had a different challenge but Huffaker felt JBU prepared him well for each task.

 “A lot of people know that NASA is at the forefront of technological advancement,” Huffaker said. “It is a privilege to learn about it in class and also to see professionals living this out.” Even at a young age Huffaker knew his birthday, July 20, was special. It was the anniversary of the day Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon and spoke those timeless words. From then on, Huffaker had a natural curiosity about how things worked. “I’ve always been intrigued of how vast the universe is,” Huffaker said. “I think of the universe as God’s thumbprint on creation—you can always see him.”

Huffaker received a $6,500 Workforce Development Grant, funded by the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium that paid his trip costs and for housing at the NASA Kennedy Center. Huffaker’s work helps enable the possibility of digging regolith, an inorganic substance, from the moon. Regolith can be turned into hydrogen, oxygen and methane elements —all-important for water and rocket fuel.

 Read the full press release here.

NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition


 (Above: JBU Engineering students, 2012)

(Above: JBU Engineering students receiving their awards, 2013)

Several JBU Engineering students "Eaglenauts" compete each year in the annual NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition at Kennedy Space Center. Once again JBU was represented well by the 2013 Lunabotics team at NASA’s fourth annual Lunabotics Competition held at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In 2012, our team placed fourth overall. They brought home second in the "Systems Engineering Paper" category, third in the "Outreach Award" category, and fourth in the "Lunar Dirt Mining" category. In 2013, our team brought home awards for second in “Oral Presentation” and third in “Systems Engineering Paper” categories. 50 teams from all over the world participated in 2013 mining competition.

Check out our JBU Lunabotics Facebook Page!


Space Grant Consortium

Audrey Dearien, Brian Plank and Zack Huffaker, represented JBU's Eaglenaut Aerospace Club at the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium event in Hot Springs, Ark. They gave a presentation about what the club is involved in and discussed projects for the future. They spoke about the rocket launch competition, being held on April 25, which includes the launching of two model rockets designed by Bentonville High School and some JBU freshmen, which will carry a payload containing sensors that will communicate to a control panel. The students were also able to listen to other students' presentations, including the JBU seniors who are participating in the NASA Robotics Mining Competition. The keynote speaker for the event was astronaut Duane Carey, who spoke about his mission to the Hubble Telescope and described how they maneuvered to it while orbiting Earth. The trip was a fun and educational experience for all the students who went and they enjoyed their time representing JBU.