Zak grew up in Boulder where he also completed his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado. His senior project involved the development of a deployment system for a small solar array to test thin-film photovoltaic panels on an experimental satellite.
After graduation, Zak moved on to looking at the effect of edge impact on the strength of carbon-fiber reinforced epoxy composites at Imperial College London where he earned his Master’s degree in composite materials. He has also worked as a graduate student researcher at the University of California San Diego, characterizing composite panels using laser vibrometry and computer modeling, and at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ Airframe Integrity Group as a stress analyst on UAVs.
Zak previously spent two weeks at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah as a crew engineer with Crew 84 experimenting with
Zak will blog about his experience at www.almostmars.com