A Western Michigan University graduate's invention has the scientist at NASA really excited about it.

"Derek McFall's out-of-this-world concept has fired up scientists at NASA." according to a WMU release. McFall tied for second place in a NASA competition, "Recycling in Space Challenge", whose challenge was to find ways to transport and process trash in zero gravity.

"Places like the International Space Station generate quite a bit of trash," McFall says. "The current method for astronauts to take care of waste that's generated on the ISS, or future places, is to shuttle it back down to Earth, and that's horribly inefficient."

Modestly, McFall says the challenge was to create a "fancy trash can." The St. Joseph native, who now works for SRG Global in Troy, says it took him back to his days as a mechanical engineering student at WMU, where he received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 2011.

One thing the contest did is be a reminder of a little seen late 1970's TV series about a crew of garbage collectors; "Quark" was written by comedy legend Buck Henry.