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Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2022

Catarino Valle

Space exploration has always fascinated Catarino Valle, and this interest drives his desire to be a part of the new space age.

“There are unlimited possibilities for technology advancements and space exploration,” Valle says. “I believe that aerospace engineering is a fundamental industry to make those possibilities a reality.”

Through studying engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, Valle has developed critical thinking skills to take on all kinds of challenges and has gotten involved in unique projects.

His biggest achievement was serving as vice president of Next Level Devils, a project-based student organization that completes challenges in support of the NASA Artemis mission.

“During my time as an officer of Next Level Devils, we were selected by the NASA Micro-g NExT team as finalists three years in a row for our proposals,” Valle says. “We were then able to prototype and test our designs at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.”

In 2021, Valle was part of a Next Level Devils team competing at the NASA Micro-g NExT challenge. Valle’s team worked on a prototype and computer-aided design, or CAD, models of the Secure Holster Instrument for Extravehicular Lunar Devices, or SHIELD, to help astronauts attach and detach tools from their belts with one hand. 

He worked on additional NASA Micro-g NExT projects to design a sample collection device and an extravehicular activity sample size location calibration marker.

Valle also helped his peers through one of the most critical courses for mechanical and aerospace engineering students, MAE 201: Statics, by implementing a new method created by his professors for conducting recitations, in which students review lecture content in small group settings.

His academic success as a New American University National Scholar was supported by many interactions with Fulton Schools Lecturer Aikaterini Stefanaki.

“I was fortunate to take three of her courses and work under her as an undergraduate teaching assistant for statics for five consecutive semesters,” Valle says. “Professor Stefanaki taught one of my first engineering courses at ASU where I was able to build a great foundation for my engineering skills.”

Following graduation, Valle is continuing his aerospace engineering studies with a focus on astronautics through the 4+1 accelerated master’s degree program. 

“My long-term career aspirations are to work in the space industry to help humanity’s interplanetary reach,” Valle says.

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ Spring 2022 class here.

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