Success Stories

Student takes mock trip to Mars

Auvi Ashfaque-Ur Rahman

For engineering student Md. Ashfaque-Ur Rahman, the trip to Grand Valley from his native Bangladesh wasn’t quite far enough. Thanks to a project organized by the Mars Society, he simulated a visit to the red planet this past winter.

Rahman, who is known as Auvi to his friends, is pursuing a master’s degree in the School of Engineering’s manufacturing operations program. He learned about the Mars Desert Research Station project while researching rocket optimization for his advanced engineering analysis course with professor Shabbir Choudhuri.

The project selects groups of six people from around the world to live in a mock spacecraft in a desert near Hanksville, Utah. Through analog simulation, participants feel as though they are on Mars and are able to conduct research for future space travel to Mars.

“Working with the people I did was a very rewarding experience because everyone that I worked with knew many different disciplines of engineering,” said Rahman.

Rahman's crew was known as the MDRS Crew 63. They entered the spacecraft on December 22 and didn't leave it until January 6. As part of the crew, Rahman said that his mission was to prove that in a future manned mission to Mars, a robotics engineer should be on board the spacecraft. During the project there was a complication underneath the spacecraft, and Rahman designed a robot to conduct video surveillance on it rather than sending a person to look at it which, according to Rahman, would be very dangerous.

“This project is benefit for all humankind, to figure out how people can colonize Mars to make it our second home. I would definitely love to see that happen someday,” said Rahman.

Rahman continues to study robotics as he is continuing his education at Grand Valley, and he also works as a graduate assistant to Choudhuri. While he is working in his degree, his dreams are still in space.

“Specifically when I graduate from Grand Valley I would like to experience a zero-gravity flight and see a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. I would also like to be an astronaut someday, that's why I participated in what I did,” Rahman said.

by Leah Burns