Mechanical Engineering Student Profile

August 2006 Update
Sam Barros of Australian TV

Photo of Sam Barros above.
From the TLC Web Site about "Junkyard Wars":
"The two captains have 10 hours to build earth-shredding machines that can carry a 25-gallon vat of liquid across rough and rugged terrain without spilling a drop. As if that wasn't difficult enough, in a Junkyard Mega-Wars first, our teams will switch vehicles for Round 2 of the challenge and try to spill as much liquid as possible from the other team's vat. The team that keeps the most liquid in their vats after both rounds takes home the victory. [...] Sam is a brilliant engineering student who's dying to put down his books and get his hands dirty."

You can read about the show and check the air times at TLC's website.


Michigan Tech Story by Marcia Goodrich


Michigan Tech ME Student Featured in Fortune and 'Junkyard Wars'

Michigan Tech ME student Osanan L. (Sam) Barros Neto , who appeared Junkyard Megawars and Discovery Canada (which nicknamed him Plasmaboy), was mentioned in Fortune magazine recently. Barros is among a handful of electricity enthusiasts profiled in the Oct. 14 edition of Fortune magazine article, "Lightening Bugs," by Ivan Amato, which chronicles the exploits of "high-voltage hobbyists". The story notes that Michigan Tech has given Barros access to lab space, where he works on his projects. You can read more about it here.

Barros participated on The Learning Channel (TLC)’s Junkyard Mega-Wars TV show January 20, 2004 .

TLC Media found out about Sam through his Internet webpage, “Sam Barros’ PowerLabs”. At the website, Sam presents some of his research over the years, which he does both as a hobby and as a means to learn more about science. His research on fields as varied as Chemistry, High Voltage Electricity, Plasmas, Rockets, Turbines, Microwaves and Electromagnetic Accelerators has earned him numerous prizes and awards in national, European, and International science fairs, as well as sponsorships for some of his projects and job offers from related industries.

Sam is currently working as an undergraduate student on a sponsored Rail Gun research. A Rail Gun is a device that employs electricity to magnetically accelerate a projectile to speeds which would be unattainable by any other means. Sam’s research is sponsored by Cornell Dubilier electronics and focuses on minimizing the rail erosion that occurs when a sliding electrical contact is pushed forward by currents as high as 100 thousand amperes. This research attracted the attention of Junkyard Wars and lead to his invitation to be on the show. He has also participated on MTV's Big Urban Myth Show as a Microwave Expert, and will be featured in a future edition of Discovery Channel's "Daily Planet.", due to be filmed on campus in January.

On that future program, Sam will talk about his research on electromagnetic accelerators, how they work, and how this technology may impact our lives and open new doors for high speed transportation in the near future. Sam says his project and participation in Junkyard Wars was made possible by the use of the ME EM laboratories and the assistance of Rob Rowe the machine shop supervisor in the ME EM 6th floor machine shops. More information about the television appearance and Sam’s other research projects, including his Rail Gun can be seen at the Powerlabs web site.

Here at Michigan Tech, he is pursuing a BS in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering (with a concentration in automotive engineering). He is also involved in the Aerospace Enterprise team working on the NASA and USAF Sponsored University Nanosatellite (UN-3) where he is working on the structural design for Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise UN-3 project.

Sam came to Michigan Tech from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He has an International Baccalaureate in Physics, English, French and Chemistry from the AEGSP (International School) Sao Paulo, Brazil. 2001. He is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

  Photo at left: Sam Barros, creator of, a web site that represents his efforts as an amateur scientist and engineering student at Michigan Technological University to document some of his experiments and research in various realms of science: Here you will find detailed reports including descriptions, pictures, videos, diagrams, schematics and technical data on some of the experiments he has attempted and devices he has built and worked with over the years, including Tesla coils, various types of high voltage generators, plasma globes, electromagnetic experiments, coil guns, rail guns, lasers, rockets, electromagnetic propulsion, EMP, HERF, cryogenics, turbines, chemistry and more.

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Updated August 19, 2006

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