Grad Student Presents Work at SciTech

Posted: February 28, 2023

Gabe Heyer, a master’s student in mechanical and aerospace engineering presented his work with the NASA Lunar Surface Technology Research (LUSTR) at SciTech, one of the largest aerospace engineering conferences.

The goal of LUSTR is to create and demonstrate a power electronic converter, called DC-energy router, that can function as a power flow controller and an intelligent circuit breaker for the lunar microgrid. This project is supporting the NASA Artemis initiative of having sustainable power on the moon’s surface and it is led by Professor Jin Wang. As a graduate research associate at CAR, Heyer works with Research Assistant Professor Matilde D’Arpino on the fault diagnostics for the micro grid. Being able to diagnose fault location, topology and intensity of the fault is a fundamental for remote applications, like power systems in space.

“We're looking at the different faults that can occur in a microgrid, and we're trying to come up with sensor placement to be able to detect those faults and then we’re designing algorithms that we can use to achieve that,” said Heyer.

At SciTech, Heyer presented his work on sensor placement analysis during a technical session on lunar power applications. “Gabe received very good feedback about this work. He is working a very complicated topic. Microgrid diagnostic is challenging due to the high number of possible fault locations and the fast dynamic of the electric systems,” said D’Arpino.

Artemis Phase 1: To the lunar surface by 2024 poster
Photo credit: NASA

Outside of his presentation, Heyer was able to attend other sessions he found interesting and broadened his insights in aerospace

engineering. ““It was really cool to be able to see all of the other work that that was going on in the field outside of what we are doing at CAR. There was a session they called Forum 360 where subject matter experts would discuss different topics. It really exposed me to a lot of ideas that I hadn’t thought about before,” said Heyer. “I also attended a fantastic session on the James Webb telescope.”

“Gabe is a great student. He has grown tremendously during the last year. As an advisor, the participation of your mentee to the first conference is a big satisfaction,” said D’Arpino, “I can for sure say that the participation to a large conference event, like SciTech, is an amazing opportunity for personal growth for a student, from presenting in front of a big audience of expert in the field, interacting with other students and getting visibility for their research. Gabe came back with a load of ideas that we can consider for future research. He also interviewed with a company for future job’ opportunities.”

“Originally I viewed myself as a mechanical engineer because my main interest is in fault, diagnosis, and modeling and that isn't tied to a specific application that that can kind of be anywhere,” said Heyer. “But after the conference I'm really excited to go into aerospace because there's just a level of precision that you find there more than in other applications. There’s also a really big emphasis on safety culture because all of it is really safety critical and I just think that's really cool!”

This article originally appeared on