Texas State wins third prize, Crowd Favorite in national Hyperspace Challenge
Update (Dec. 6, 2021): Dr. Anthony Torres, associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology at Texas State University, is among six winners in the 2021 Hyperspace Challenge, a business accelerator run by the Air Force Research Laboratory and CNM Ingenuity as part of the U.S. Space Force's new SpaceWERX program.
Torres' entry took third place in the academic division. His project explores the effects of vibration during micro-gravity production of ZBLAN, a heavy-metal fluoride glass, and the potential telecommunication, sensor, and power-transmission applications for the material.
Ten universities and 13 startup companies competed for $100,000 in prizes. The Texas State entry was also voted Crowd Favorite.
“Overall, I'm quite humbled by the results. There were some very impressive companies and universities, and I'm surprised by the outcome,” Torres said. “I'm thrilled that my fellow cohorts found my final pitch interesting, informative, and memorable, such that they voted for me.
“Once the funding becomes available, I will initiate my proposed project. With the Hyperspace support I'll be able to begin a preliminary investigation by hiring a pair of undergraduate students to begin material processing and laboratory testing. This preliminary investigation will help demonstrate our capabilities here at Texas State in order to secure a larger project that can fully support the entire investigation as well as graduate students.
“I think that with these two recognitions we'll be able to further demonstrate our capabilities and confidence that sponsors can have in Texas State University to execute high quality research,” Torres said.
Anthony Torres, associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology at Texas State University, is in the running for a $100,000 prize in the 2021 Hyperspace Challenge. He was chosen to compete against 10 universities and 13 startup companies.
The Hyperspace Challenge is an annual event hosted by the U.S. Space Force, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and CNM Ingenuity. This is the fourth year for the competition.
At Texas State, Torres teaches classes in project management focusing on construction materials. His primary research interest has been in the area of testing and modeling of materials. His Ph.D. from The University of New Mexico is in civil engineering — specifically in glass fiber technology. Prior to joining Texas State, Torres was a materials engineer for the Air Force Research Laboratory.
“I always kind of keep an eye out for projects that the Air Force is dealing with now. I saw this as an opportunity to participate in the competition,” Torres said.
If he wins the prize, it will enable him to source undergraduate and graduate students to participate on the project.
“The specific topic category I submitted is called: Leveraging Microgravity for Military/Commercial Applications and Products,” Torres said. “The specific research topic is ‘Understanding the Effect of Vibrations in the Crystallization of ZBLAN Glass.’ ”
The University of Texas at El Paso, Aerospace Center, and San Antonio-based startup firm, Astroport Space Technologies, which specializes in space construction and material manufacturing, were also among the 24 competing.
The universities and startups will participate in onboarding activities, education workshops and discussions with military and government customers. The competition will conclude on Dec. 2, 2021, when a winner is named.
The U.S. Space Force is a separate and distinct branch of the armed services, under the Department of the Air Force.