June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.230.1 - 11.230.10
ARLISS: A Multidisciplinary Extracurricular Design Project for Undergraduates
Design projects that require students to build working prototypes are an invaluable sup- plement to traditional lectures and laboratory exercises. Additionally, allowing students to participate in challenging design projects outside of any oﬃcial coursework can greatly im- prove their educational experience. This paper will discuss three years of such extracurricular projects at the Georgia Institute of Technology for competition in ARLISS - A Rocket Launch for International Student Satellites. Students build small “satellites” that are launched to approximately 10,000 feet. The most popular competition at ARLISS is the “Comeback” competition, where the student satellites must autonomously navigate to a target location. The project requires knowledge of numerous engineering disciplines and is a leap in complex- ity over the projects in which the typical student gets involved. The majority of students have come from the mechanical engineering department, but several have also been from the aerospace engineering and computer science departments. The ARLISS project has great potential to provide students with experience in multidisciplinary design, expanding upon knowledge gained in the classroom. The nature of the project provides a fun and entertaining venue for education without the constraints of a required course.
It is commonly accepted that hands-on experience leads to the great educational gains. These gains are further increased if the hands-on projects build upon previous experiences in an interesting and exciting way1 . Unfortunately, design projects that require students to work on teams to build working prototypes are often diﬃcult to grade. Furthermore, students worry about their grade and have conﬂicts with team members who do not fully contribute to the project. These uncomfortable group dynamics stiﬂe creativity and degrade enjoyment. Therefore, allowing students to participate in challenging design projects outside of any oﬃcial coursework can greatly improve their educational experience. This can prove to be a diﬃcult proposition, as student experiences and interests vary. In addition, the priorities of the students will change throughout their educational careers, often making it diﬃcult to retain students during multi-year projects. In order to attract and retain student participants, projects must be both scalable in diﬃcultly and complexity and oﬀer a variety of engineering challenges.
One project that fulﬁlls these criteria is ARLISS - A Rocket Launch for International Student Satellites. The goal of this initiative is to provide students with hands-on experience in the design, construction, and launch of space systems. ARLISS was established in 1999 as a collaboration between the Stanford University Space Systems Development Program and rocket enthusiasts from Northern California2 . Held on the Black Rock Playa (a dry lake bed) in Nevada in late September, the members of the AERO-PAC rocket club provide
Vaughan, J., & Singhose, W. (2006, June), Arliss: A Multidisciplinary Extracurricular Design Project For Undergraduates Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/1028
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