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Doctoral student’s conference success opens doors to International Astronautical Congress

Since 2020, College of Engineering doctoral student Fereshteh Rajabi Kouchi has been developing two-dimensional material inks for plasma jet printing of optoelectronic devices and creating cost-effective alternatives for interspace research.

Fereshteh Rajabi Kouchi headshot

In the fall of 2022, Kouchi represented Boise State University when presenting her research at the 15th annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium student poster competition hosted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the American Astronautical Society. She won first place finish in the graduate engineering division.

“I’m honored to be recognized as the top graduate finalist in this competition,” Kouchi said. “I’m thankful for Dr. Estrada and the guidance of the materials science department for supporting my research and I’m hopeful our work will lead to more discoveries to help reduce the cost of vital interspace research.” 

Kouchi works alongside Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering Associate Professor David Estrada in the Advanced Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Laboratory. The research, “Additive manufacturing of colloidal nanocrystal inks for in-space manufacturing of advanced sensors and energy harvesters,” examines the additive manufacturing of three-dimensional sensors and electronic systems, in this case, enabled by emerging nanocrystal inks, one superfine layer at a time on inner space missions.

The poster session featured 96 national and international students, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, presenting research projects relevant to the aerospace industry. Topics included atmospheric science, astrophysics, health, aerospace systems engineering and design and more.

As a finalist of the competition, Kouchi is eligible to compete for the opportunity to present her research at the International Astronautical Congress, which will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, in October 2023. Finalists apply to the International Astronautical Congress and, of those selected, the American Astronautical Society will choose one student to receive registration, airfare and lodging for the conference.

“International students face many difficulties being away from home, family and friends,” Kouchi said. “From the moment I spoke with Dr. Estrada about a position in his lab, I have received tremendous support and encouragement throughout my entire process. I’ve gained valuable experience through experiments and built many relationships both in the lab and out.” 

This year’s poster competition was the fourth year the event was open to academic research by students from any university. Named for Wernher von Braun, a former director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle, the superbooster that would propel Americans to the Moon, the annual von Braun Symposium aims to convene, connect and collaborate with space industry leaders and colleagues.  

“Fereshteh’s success at this conference comes as no surprise to those who know her well.” Estrada said. “She works tirelessly to solve some of the most pressing materials challenges facing the field of additive manufacturing electronics and I”m confident this is the first of many awards she will receive as a Boise State student and future alum.”

-by Jamie Fink