On June 9-10, 2021, the University of New Hampshire hosted a virtual, 2-day Aerospace Science and Manufacturing Sandpit. The event was one of UNH’s bi-annual industry-engagement meet-ups that promote innovation and collaboration between the university and industry by providing companies with direct access to UNH researchers working in the same field. The goal is to create opportunities for new partnerships between the university and the business community, ultimately to encourage economic development. The more industry gets involved in the university and leverages UNH’s research capabilities, the more UNH can do research to help businesses grow and develop. UNH’s industry sandpits are typically held as in-person events, but due to COVID restrictions, this year’s event was held on a virtual networking platform called Remo.  

During the Sandpit, industry attendees had an opportunity to network with UNH researchers who cover a wide range of expertise including, space science, autonomous vehicles and drones, materials modeling and development, sensors and actuators, advanced manufacturing, fluid flow and aerodynamics. 

On Day 1, attendees watched short introductory presentations from the Aerospace Science and Manufacturing researchers and took “virtual tours” of some of UNH’s world-class aerospace science and manufacturing facilities. Participants were then able to move around the virtual room to network with other attendees, learn more from the presenters, discuss pressing challenges with experts and colleagues, and talk about potential collaborations and partnerships. All of the video introductions and virtual facility tours that were featured on Day 1 can be viewed here.

On Day 2, attendees participated in a collaborative sandpit. Sandpits are focused industry-convening events that connect attendees in the business community to researchers, peers and resources based on particular areas of research. During this 2.5-hour event, participants worked in interdisciplinary teams to develop potential solutions to this question: “How do we expand Aerospace Science and Manufacturing research and development into other applications like satellites, medicine, energy, earth-bound autonomous solutions and advanced materials.” Throughout the sandpit, trained facilitators helped teams to focus the discussion and guide groups through the ideation process to explore options and opportunities. Ideas that were discussed included the development of fuel-less flight for data communication and transmission, providing medical assistance to low-accessible areas through autonomous technologies, improving regenerative medicine through advanced manufacturing and more. The goal of Day 2 was to help attendees meet researchers and other professionals in the field, forge new partnerships, explore collaborations, and generate ideas for potential future projects.


The University of New Hampshire is one of only 13 land, sea, and space-grant institutions in the United States. UNH is designated as an R1 research institution and has significant expertise and resources related to the aerospace and manufacturing fields. For over 60 years, the university has worked with NASA on numerous missions and was recently awarded a $108 million NASA contract to develop instrumentation for a new satellite that will study coastal areas (the second largest contract NASA has awarded to a university in the last decade). UNH is also home to the John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center which is focused on advanced manufacturing education, research, and innovation.

UNHInnovation is planning on hosting another industry sandpit focused on Blue Economy related research and resources in early November. Sign up for our emails to learn more about our latest news and upcoming events.

The UNH Aerospace Science and Manufacturing Sandpit was administered by UNHInnovation in partnership with the New Hampshire Aerospace & Defense Export Consortium (NHADEC).