BYU Student Set to Receive NASA Award for Innovative Design

Mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Ezekiel Merriam has proposed research that has again drawn the attention of NASA to the Compliant Mechanisms Research Group (CMR) of Brigham Young University.

A native of Idaho and a graduate of the Bachelors and Masters programs of mechanical engineering at BYU, Ezekiel Merriam has won the prestigious title of NASA Space Technology Research Fellow for the year 2013, with opportunities of renewal in future years.

Merriam is following in the steps of Shannon Zirbel and Taylor Webb as BYU students receiving the NASA Fellowship that first started being awarded in 2011.

Chosen from numerous graduate students across the country competing for the award, Merriam will have to opportunity to perform space-related research here at BYU, and at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He will work alongside a professional NASA researcher who will be his mentor as he works to develop compliant mechanisms that are more suitable for the space environment.

Using recently-developed 3D metal printing technology, Merriam will have the opportunity to build compliant mechanisms for space applications. Merriam says, “[by] using this manufacturing process, we can build parts that would be very difficult or impossible to build using traditional machining methods. We can design parts that replace entire assemblies... in a single chunk of metal."

Merriam is excited to work closely alongside NASA scientists and have an impact in the space mechanism design world. To do this, Merriam will create mathematical models to analyze and optimize system behavior, and titanium prototypes will be printed and tested to verify the predictive models.