Texas State CaerusCrete team takes first at 2022 NASA MINDS competition

Student Experience

Jayme Blaschke | May 18, 2022

group shot of 5 people
Left to right: Solomon Debbarma, Anthony Torres, Rodolfo Castillo Hernandez, Damini Gopal, and Xijun "Jeff" Shi

Texas State University's Bobcat CaerusCrete team has won first place in the 2022 NASA MINDS (MUREP Innovative New Designs for Space) Undergraduate Student Design competition.

MUREP is NASA's Minority University Research and Education Project. The competition is designed to engage minority students in designing and building technologies needed in orbit.

The Texas State project, "Use of lunar regolith to synthesize geopolymer for lunar construction," beat out more than 30 other university entries to win the undergraduate division. A geopolymer is an inorganic binding substance, such as ceramics, often used in high-temperature scenarios and containment of hazardous materials, such as radioactive waste.

The Texas State team consisted of Damini Gopal, a junior civil engineering major and Rodolfo Castillo Hernandez, a junior civil engineering major, along with postdoc mentor Solomon Debbarma, graduate mentor Mehrab Modehi, and faculty mentors Xijun "Jeff" Shi, assistant professor in the Ingram School of Engineering, and Anthony Torres, associate professor of concrete industry management.

CaerusCrete—named after Caerus, the Greek god of opportunity—explores the idea that novel mechanisms could bind granular materials found on site, such as regolith (commonly known as moon dust), to gain sufficient strength for structural use by binding these materials together. 

The team had previously received a $1,500 NASA grant to test the idea that microorganisms can turn extraterrestrial soil into resilient structures through 3D printing.

poster of research

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922