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LOGAN - Utah State University research engineer Steve Folkman enjoys building tinkertoy-like models.

It is more work than play, however, as Folkman is trying to design space structures that are as light as possible to minimize the expense of launching.

"When these light structures are positioned in space, such as in docking, it causes them to vibrate. We need to figure out how to control this. We know the material itself will dampen the vibrations, but no one knows how much less vibration the joints holding the trusses together will provide."

Folkman and his colleagues have won a grant of approximately $90,000 from NASA to do preliminary studies, including building and ground-testing a prototype truss with pinned joints. Based on the result of the project, they hope to build a second model to fly on the space shuttle.