2015 RASC-AL Engineering Design Competition

NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) invites you to participate in the exciting 2015 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Engineering Design Competition. Since 2002, RASC-AL has been challenging the brightest students at the nation’s top engineering schools to develop innovative, revolutionary concepts to solve challenges pertaining to NASA’s near and long term mission goals.  As a leading university in the aerospace engineering field, we are extremely interested in engaging your students and faculty in this prestigious program, as they have real potential to provide NASA with great ideas.

Teams that are selected will receive a $6,000 stipend to facilitate full participation in the Forum held in Cocoa Beach, Florida in May/June 2015.

This year’s RASCAL themes are looking for innovations in crafting NASA exploration strategy as it relates to extending humanity’s reach beyond low Earth Orbit (LEO).  Optimally, the RASC-AL themes lend themselves to a long-term class project or senior/Master’s thesis, where students develop scenarios for the synergistic application of innovative capabilities and/or new technologies for evolutionary architecture development to enable future missions, reduce cost, or improve safety.  In an effort to help you incorporate a RASC-AL framework into your coursework (if interested), we are providing you with a sneak preview of the 2015 RASC-AL themes – 2 months earlier than ever before!

As your department plans the fall courses, please consider including this competition into your curricula.


  • 2015 NASA RASC-AL Engineering Design Competition – 2015 Themes preview
  • Team project where students investigate, plan, and analyze space exploration designs and develop concepts that may provide full or partial solutions to design problems and challenges currently facing human space exploration.
    • Themes provide opportunities for students to engage in specialized areas.
    • Teams present their research to a panel of NASA and industry experts at the annual RASC-AL Forum.  The oral presentations are augmented by the submission of a technical paper and a research poster.


  • The competition is open to undergraduate or graduate level teams from US-based universities (Senior Design Project teams, aerospace clubs, etc.).
  • Faculty participation is required.
  • Inter-disciplinary, multi-university, and international collaborations are allowed and encouraged.


  • Notice of Intent Deadline: November 3, 2014
  • Abstract Deadline: January 11, 2015
  • Final teams selected: February 1, 2015
  • 2015 RASC-AL Forum:  late May/early June 2015


  • The 2015 RASC-AL Forum will be held in Cocoa Beach, Florida.


  • Involvement in high-level, relevant aerospace research focusing on innovative and creative ideas – with the potential for NASA to infuse your RASC-AL concepts and data into NASA program planning.
  • The chance for students to apply what they learn in class to real world, current challenges associated with manned space flight.
  • Invaluable opportunities to interact and network with NASA and industry experts (Boeing Aerospace, SpaceWorks Engineering, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Aerojet Rocketdyne).
  • The opportunity to develop relationships that could lead to participation in other NASA/industry programs.  Each year, NASA and industry hire interns and full-time employees directly from the RASC-AL Forum!
  • Selected teams receive travel stipends to present their work to a panel of NASA/industry judges, where participants gain the incredible experience of giving a technical presentation and poster presentation.
  • VIP tour of the NASA Kennedy Space Center.
  • Top winning teams are awarded with a travel stipend to attend the annual AIAA Space Conference, where they will be invited to present their design project to industry experts.
  • RASC-AL is a great resume builder!


  • Interested teams are encouraged to submit an online Notice of Intent form by November 3, 2014
  • The first stage of the competition begins with an abstract.  Teams submit a 5 page abstract via the RASC-AL website, responding to one of the 2015 RASC-AL Themes.

◦       Click Here to find a flyer with a preview of the 2015 RASC-AL themes descriptions. The 2015 RASC-AL themes include:

▪       Earth Independent Mars Pioneering Architecture

▪       Earth Independent Lunar Pioneering Architecture

▪       Mars Moons Prospector Mission

▪       Large Scale Mars Entry, Decent and Landing (EDL) Pathfinder Mission

  • Based on a review of the abstracts by the RASC-AL Steering Committee, up to sixteen teams will be selected to move to the final stage of the competition.  In the final stage, selected teams receive a stipend to facilitate full participation in the RASC-AL Forum held at the Hilton Cocoa Beach Hotel in Cocoa Beach, Florida in May/June 2015.

Don’t miss out!  Now is the time to engage the next generation of engineers, and we sincerely hope to see a RASC-AL abstract from the University of Central Florida this year!  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the RASC-AL team.  You may contact me at 757-325-6732 or shelley.spears@nianet.org, or Stacy Dees at 757-218-8313 or stacy.dees@nianet.org.


For complete information on the RASC-AL Engineering Design Competition, please visit www.nianet.org/RASCAL. To download a PDF of the themes, please click here – Themes Document PDF

Full competition details for the 2015 Program will be made available on the RASC-AL website by September 1, 2014.

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