College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Chase Grimm: Applying studies to real world issues

Iowa State student takes his knowledge from the classroom to create a surface sampling device for NASA’s Micro-g NExT competition.

Pictured left to right: Jared Hall, Chase Grimm, Molly Statz

While he was growing up on a farm in the small community of Maynard, Iowa, Chase Grimm spent hours tinkering around with farm machinery and equipment, beginning his drive to learn more about manufacturing systems.

He says joining the industrial engineering program was an easy choice. “It seems like the broadest of all the engineering majors, and there is a lot of management positions in the field, which is something I can see myself doing,” says Grimm.

Recently, Grimm and two friends submitted a proposal to NASA for the Micro-g NExT competition, a competition that challenges undergraduate students to design a device that addresses a current space exploration problem. The competition brings together college students who are studying similar topics and allows them to apply their studies to real issues.

Grimm says the group chose to work on a surface sampling device that would be used on asteroids because each member had ideas of how they could create a design.

While he was excited when their proposal was selected to be tested in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, he also realized they now had an arduous process laid out before them. That’s because the proposal was originally a concept and not a functional design.

So, Grimm started from scratch to rebuild the design to work under certain parameters, such as under a certain weight, volume, dimension, and the ability to pick up an object that is 1/8 of an inch. They also had to make all hazards apparent on the device.

“We had to label all sharp edges or pinch points on the device, because in a practical situation this device would be used in space where it could potentially cut open an astronaut’s suit,” explains Grimm.

After the design was finished, Grimm and his team took the design to Texas, where divers took the device to a depth of 7 feet. The team also gave a presentation about the design, which Grimm appreciated as it gave him a chance to practice his communication skills.

Even though there were no winners in the competition, Grimm says he wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the work that was presented in future NASA designs.

“It was a great opportunity, and I gained a lot of great experience,” he says.

Grimm hopes to someday work in the aerospace industry, but he’s also considering pursuing research and continuing his education to receive a master’s and eventually a Ph.D.

If you would like to learn more about the Iowa State Micro-g NeXT team, visit them at: