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UNH Student Chosen to Attend NASA Academy. Rochester resident will spend summer at Goddard Space Flight Center
DURHAM, N.H. -- University of New Hampshire junior Rob Lamontagne of Rochester will spend the summer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

But working on NASA projects will be nothing new for the mechanical engineering major; he's spent his time at UNH helping build a NASA-funded satellite.

Lamontagne is one of 22 students nationwide chosen to attend the NASA Academy at Goddard, a program designed to give students a working knowledge of NASA and its programs through interactive sessions with leaders in government, industry and academia and research in NASA's laboratories. The students will discover how NASA and its field centers operate, understand the NASA link to the private sector and gain experience in world-class laboratories.

"We are proud to have Rob represent New Hampshire at the academy this summer," says David Bartlett, associate director of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS) and director of the New Hampshire Space Grant Consortium, which helps select academy students. "This program is NASA's way of identifying future leaders in aerospace science and engineering, and of introducing them to high-level research."

During his stay at Goddard May 29 to Aug. 7, Lamontagne will work on ultra high resolution rotary encoders, used in satellite applications.

His past experience at UNH should serve him well. Lamontagne and a small army of other UNH students have continued their work on the $4 million Cooperative Astrophysics and Technology SATellite, or CATSAT, which will probe the mysteries of gamma-ray and X-ray bursts.

CATSAT -- scheduled for a July 2001 launch -- is the first satellite completely designed and constructed by UNH faculty, staff and students. The NASA-funded project undertaken by EOS and the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, in cooperation with England's University of Leicester, will show that a research satellite can be designed, built and operated utilizing students and teaching faculty for a fraction of the cost of one built by traditional means.

"Working on CATSAT gives me the opportunity to take all the abstract concepts I learn in class and put them to work in real life. I never expected that to happen," says Lamontagne. "It's the real-life, hands-on experience that really sets me apart from other engineering students."

Flying is another Lamontagne love. In addition to flying model rockets, he has designed, built and flown radio-controlled and control line model aircraft. He attended Space Camp, Aviation Challenge, and the U.S. Air Force Academy's Summer Scientific Seminar. He also spent a summer working at a local airport.

"In addition to my 30-plus hours in general aviation aircraft, during which I completed several solo 'cross-country' flights," he explains, "I also soloed in gliders at the Air Force Academy Soaring Program."

During high school, Lamontagne spent four years in Air Force Junior ROTC learning about aerospace science. He is currently pursuing an Air Force Commission and has been recently selected to become an Air Force pilot upon graduation.

By Carmelle Druchniak
UNH News Bureau