CLEVELAND – 25 May 11
USRP Intern Studies the Art of Chest Bump
By: Heather L. Ogletree
Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This type of thinking is the basis of safety and prevention programs around the globe, and NASA is no different. The continued advancement of biomedical research is essential to effective operations on the International Space Station (ISS); therefore, the NASA Human Research Program’s Integrated Medical Model (IMM) project was created to assess risks, including the likelihood and impact of occurrence, of all credible in-flight medical conditions.
This spring, the Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) selected Florida State University student Eric Milo to participate in a 15 week internship at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, where the mechanical engineering major would take part in hands-on biomedical research under the tutelage of NASA Mentor Beth Lewandowski.
“When I received my internship offer, it seemed surreal,” said Milo. But once he stepped onsite, he hit the ground running, researching “astronaut’s routines and activities, in addition to various types of equipment aboard the station.” Lewandowski also tasked him with researching past occurrences of chest injuries — noting the height, mass and gender of the subject along with the initial velocity of the impactor, the degree of chest compression, and the resulting injuries.
Once he had his research in tow, Milo faced his next set of challenges. “The information... was then integrated with the computational chest model in an attempt to identify the multitude of impact scenarios that could occur aboard the space station,” explained Milo. “The most difficult challenges I had to overcome while modeling the human thorax included: learning how to write efficient programs, studying and applying various strategies of mathematical modeling, and determining how to create a model that was most accurate in microgravity conditions.”
Now, Milo can take comfort in knowing his work will impact the future of ISS operations. He said, “The most satisfying part of the Computation Chest Modeling Project has been my role in contributing to the safety and well-being of the astronauts. Coming to NASA as a mechanical engineering student, I learned how to apply my knowledge and skills to problems outside my field of study. Through this, I realized how diverse the job of an engineer can be.”
In regard to USRP, Milo maintained, “The NASA USRP internship is an all-around great experience. Having the ability to work with some of the nation’s most intelligent minds is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I also enjoyed the numerous tours and presentations I was able to attend, which exposed me to technologies outside of my project and increased my interest in other fields.”
Lewandowski commented, “It was a pleasure to work with Eric this semester. He performed very valuable work on the IMM Chest Injury Model. His work will be incorporated to the final model we deliver to NASA Johnson Space Center with relatively few changes. I wish Eric the best of luck as he finishes his engineering studies at Florida State University.”