This project took place at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and involved creating an instructional tool that would increase the quality of communication between mechanical engineers and geologists who are collaboratively designing ways to collect and cache martian rock samples for the Mars 2020 rover mission. Geology and engineering do not cross paths in traditional education settings and communication is difficult due to the specialized language and processes of geology. Previous attempts to bridge communications between these two groups did not serve a large enough audience nor were they specific to the complexities of the Mars 2020 mission. Interviews with JPL mechanical engineers involved in the Mars 2020 mission provided the basis of what they needed to know about planetary geology to do their jobs better and to communicate with geologists more effectively. The result was the creation and implementation of a three-hour planetary geology course, as well as a one-hour introductory class, specifically designed to address subjects of concern, such as how rocks break, rock failures, and how tools interact with rocks. In addition information about general geological processes and terms was given. Preliminary results from voluntary evaluations have shown the course to be very informative and relevant to the work that they are doing.


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Liberal Studies | Science and Mathematics Education


Greg Peters

Lab site

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and is made possible with contributions from the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1340110, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevron Corporation, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and from the host research center. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are solely those of the authors. The STAR Program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in STEM Education on behalf of the California State University system.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/350


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