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Adam Z

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California Davis (UCD)


Aerospace engineering


My background is in small satellite development and construction, in particular attitude determination and control, i.e. how a satellite knows where it is pointing and changes its orientation. I love both hardware and software projects - whether that's writing code to simulate a satellite in orbit or building the circuitry itself that will fly in space. My current research project is an inspection satellite that will orbit around the International Space Station, taking photos to look for deteriorating or damaged equipment. When I'm not in the lab, I enjoy anything that takes me outside: biking, hiking, ultra marathons, backpacking, and rock climbing. Any day on a trail surrounded by trees is a good day.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Space Habitat Monitoring

As people travel into deep space, their dwellings will need to self-monitor to ensure the safety of the inhabitants. What measurements are needed and how can that information be presented to astronauts in a helpful way? These questions (and others) can be taken in many directions, all centered around how humans can better interact with their "smart home".

Self-driving Cars on Mars

Self-driving systems have undergone dramatic development in the last decade; this development represents advancements in many fields, both software (computer vision and machine learning) and hardware (sensor systems). How might these technological advancements be applied to exploration on other planets? Research needs to be done to identify relevant technologies on Earth and how they can be applied to extraterrestrial navigation.

Coding skills

Python, MATLAB and Simulink, Arduino (C)

Teaching experience

--Guiding summer interns at NASA Ames Research Center (high school and undergrad interns) --Teaching undergrad engineering courses at university --Mentoring undergrads through an engineering design club at university


Work experience

NASA Ames Research Center (2017 - 2021)
Attitude Determination and Control Engineer


University of California Davis (UCD)
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Stanford University
MS Master of Science (2019)
Astronautics and Aeronautics
University of California Davis (UCD)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Aerospace Engineering

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