Above: Sandbox Initiative member Nadine Tabucol teaching kids about using tools in microgravity at this years Exploring Your Universe event (Image Credit: Chloe Liau)

3D CAD for subsurface sampling device

MAE-affiliated student society Bruin Space is currently running four independent UCLA aerospace projects:

  • The Sandbox Initiative–a platform for students to assemble teams and take part in fast-paced open-competition opportunities.
  • Project Overseer–a high altitude balloon platform for research and technical demonstrations.
  • Project Reach–a small rocket payload designed for Rocket Project at UCLA’s Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition rocket.
  • Project Rapid–an initiative to secure and execute future CubeSat programs at UCLA following the completion of the ELFIN CubeSat.

3D CAD for surface sampling device

From developing UCLA’s first CubeSat, ELFIN, to traveling to the Neutral Buoyancy Lab as a part of a NASA competition, Bruin Spacecraft Group is working tirelessly to make UCLA a household name in student space mission development. Previously an organization exclusively for the developments of ELFIN, Bruin Space was reinvented by senior Electrical Engineer Nick Adair, who wanted to see more opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved in the process of designing space-related missions. In Fall 2016, the organization introduced three new projects, Project Reach, Project Overseer, and the Sandbox Initiative, which quickly became home to dozens of students from all disciplines hoping to enhance their educations and explore the world of space engineering.

In Fall 2016 three independent groups of students entered a NASA competition as part of the Sandbox Initiative. The three teams created proposals for the NASA Micro-G Next Competition, a challenge that had the goal of designing various devices that could function in a microgravity environment. By the end of the quarter, two of the teams had been selected by NASA to test their designs at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas in May  2017. Kyle Johnson, a key member of the subsurface sampling team has said that his favorite part about the project has been “collaborating with his peers on such a big design challenge.” As the Micro-g teams finalize designs and start preparing for their trip to NASA, Bruin Space leaders reflect on the endless possibilities for the student organization in efforts to bring passion, inventiveness, and creativity to the space engineering community.


 UCLA Samueli Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering