NASA Announces Blue Skies Aeronautics Competition Winners


NASA has awarded first place in its annual Gateways to Blue Skies aeronautics competition to a team representing Boston University. The team, which included Max Pounanov, Michael Osuji, Odin Francis and Patrick Olah, took the prize with their project exploring aluminum powder combustion. Now in its second year, Gateways to Blue Skies is sponsored by the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s University Innovation Project with the goal of engaging “college students in researching climate-friendly technologies and applications that will establish a zero emissions future for aviation.” 

“Being selected to present our research as finalists at the Blue Skies Forum was more than enough; our team is honored and thrilled to have received the first place award,” said team lead Patrick Olah. “Thank you to all the event coordinators for organizing such a great event, to the incredible engineering professionals for their time and expertise, and to our fellow teams who presented alongside us. We look forward to seeing what Blue Skies has in store for the future!”

Members of the winning team will have the opportunity to intern at NASA’s Langley Research Center, Glenn Research Center, Ames Research Center or Armstrong Flight Research Center during the 2023-2024 academic year.  Gateways to Blue Skies is open to undergraduate and graduate students who attend an accredited U.S.-based college or university. The competition includes submitting a conceptual study, a five- to seven-page proposal and video summary of the project with selected finalists going on to write a research paper, create an infographic for their concept and present the project to “subject matter experts from NASA and industry” at a NASA-hosted forum.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. I assume they were exploring aluminum powder combustion as a rocket fuel. While aluminum oxide is abundant in the Earth’s crust and may the most common surface metal; it is also found as deposits in brains with dementia. Nobody knows if this is correlative or causative, but for awhile the banning of aluminum cookware was considered. Regardless, I don’t want to breath aerosolized aluminum oxide generated as an aviation byproduct.