National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Chelsey Erickson

Milwaukee School of Engineering
Milwaukee, WI
B.S. Mechanical Engineering
Minor in Mathematics

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Dec 2010
Focus in Biomechanics

NASA Academy Research Project:
Life Support Systems/Particulate Matter and Lunar Dust Filtration

Principle Investigator:
Dr Juan H. Agui

Stevens Point, WI



NASA’s mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research. As pioneers, it is critical to be at the forefront of technology in these areas by using the science, technology, and engineering talent we have right within our own country. Furthermore, it is essential to re-inspire young children in these areas, so that NASA can be carried though to the next generation leading us to the development of amazing new technologies and to worlds beyond our own.

As a young child, I was inspired by astronauts of the time, and dreamed that someday I too, might make it into space. I remember asking for chemistry sets, rock collections, and telescopes as a child. These dreams drove me toward studying science and math, so that I might be able to understand the world around me. After high school I chose to pursue engineering as my way towards space.

I realize now, my chances of making it to the moon or to Mars are very small, but I hope that by becoming an engineer, I can work toward that dream, towards NASA’s mission to advance scientific discovery and space exploration, so that generations after mine may realize those dreams too. I believe that scientists and engineers have the responsibility to continue NASA’s legacy so that it is at the forefront of technology and research for the future.

Research Experience

Extracurricular projects and research has been an integral part of my life from high school through college and into my master’s program, and has crossed a wide range of research areas.

In high school I worked in the biology lab and green house at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point helping to develop hybrid potato plants that were resistant to specific diseases and insects. This research set the foundation for my interest in engineering research.

As an undergraduate, I pursued research through two different organizations: The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) and The Fluid Power Institute (FPI). Though the WSGC, I was involved in three separate projects. The first project was individual research funded through NASA on High and Low Velocity Impacts of Carbon Fiber/Spectra ® Composite Sandwiches. This research allowed me to study the strength characteristics of the relatively new fiber material for use in space applications. The second project was a group project which involved designing and building three experimental payloads to be launched to 100,000ft on a high altitude balloon. Our team focused on developing a sun-tracking camera system, improving efficiencies of solar cell films, and looking at the different types of ultra-violet levels in the atmosphere. The third project was to design and build a high-power rocket to certain requirements and participate in a competition. The parameters of the competition are different each year. The three years I competed, I was part of teams receiving 2nd place, 1st place, and 1st place consecutively in the engineering bracket.

At the FPI, I was involved in many projects over the course of two years in the areas of hydraulic circuits, fatigue testing, and tribology and contamination. All of these projects were funded by external sources specific to the work being done.

As a graduate student, I have worked on a research proposal based on using high and low frequency electrical stimulation to reduce muscle atrophy due to microgravity. In the fall of 2010, I will be working on an individual research project on a related biomechanical project.

Professional Objectives

I plan to graduate with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in December of 2010. I would love to someday work for NASA performing research in any of a number of different areas. At this point, I might also be interested in obtaining a Ph.D. However, I would first like to start in industry in the area of biomechanics to gain practical experience and help people now.

I do believe, though, that part of the future of NASA is sending humans on long-term missions to distant moons and planets. For this to occur, an important factor is human sustainability. I would love to be a part of a team that helps make this dream come true by using my biomechanics and mechanical engineering background along with the NASA Academy experience.