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CanSat Pico-satellite Building Workshop as an Effective Tool for STEAM Education, A Case Study

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Jorge H. Kurita Universidad Nacional de Asunción Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jorge Kurita attended Universidad Nacional de Asuncion in Paraguay, where he got his BS in Electromechanical Engineering. After graduation, he spent some time in academia working as faculty. During this tenure he taught courses on heat transfer, fluid mechanics and physics. In 2004 Dr. Kurita was granted the Fulbright scholarship to attend a graduate program on Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Technological University. He has finished his MS and then continued with a doctorate program. His doctorate research was funded by NASA and the NSF. Dr. Kurita's contribution to his field was well published in several papers from high impact journals.
From 2011 Dr. Kurita worked as a development engineer II, in the competitive automotive industry, Filtran LLC, located in Des Plaines Illinois. His experience as an experimental researcher helped Filtran to develop special testing techniques never implemented before on filtration systems. In addition, Dr. Kurita worked in the CAE group, contributing to develop simulation techniques to help develop state of the art filtration systems.
From 2016 Dr. Kurita is back to his alma mater as an assistant professor in Universidad Nacional de Asuncion. Later the same year, he is appointed to lead the research department of the School of Engineering. From 2017 he is appointed to be the head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Universidad Nacional de Asuncion. He is currently working as the director of the Planning Directorate of the Paraguayan Space Agency.
For his contributions to the Paraguayan society in the field of science and engineering, he was acknowledged as the "Exceptional Protagonist of 2017" by the Ultimahora news, a major newspaper in Paraguay. Another distinction, the "Outstanding Citizen Award," was granted by the city council of the city of Asuncion in 2017.

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Derlis Ortiz Coronel


Lucas Domingo Moreira Bogado Universidad Nacional de Asunción Orcid 16x16

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Is a student of the Faculty of Engineering at the National University of Asuncion (FIUNA), currently doing his Final Degree Work to obtain the title of Mechatronic Engineer. He is also a Teaching Assistant at FIUNA for more than four years. From a young age he was interested in education, teaching and technology.

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Blas Fernando Vega Universidad Tecnológica Nacional Unidad de Formación Superior

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Mr. Blas Vega was born in Asunción-Paraguay. He had graduated from the Faculty of Polytechnics at the Asuncion Nacional University. His major was in Electronics Engineering, with an emphasis on Industrial Control Systems. After graduation, he worked for ABInBev Company and CocaCola Company as an instrumentalist.
In 2018, Mr. Vega was admitted to a graduate school at the Gulich Institute, in the Argentinean Space Agency (CONAE). Currently, he is enrolled in a Master of Science program in Satellite Instruments, expecting graduation in 2020.

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In a developed country, for every 2,000 inhabitants there is at least one graduate engineer per year. However, in Paraguay for every 30,000 inhabitants, just only one engineer graduates. For a country so lagging behind in the development of infrastructure this relationship is catastrophic. Additionally, the interest on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) careers has decreased because of the lack of knowledge and the poor performance in subjects related on these areas. According to a PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test report, only 10% of the Paraguayan student participants have passed the tests on reading, mathematics and science. Space-related educational programs have become a very inspiring way to implement STEM education. CanSat (Can-Satellite) training programs are clear examples of this approach. During the program, students must get over several challenges in order to build a “very small and simple satellite” (pico-satellite) that has similar function with larger ones. They learn how to plan, design and solve problems as if they were on a real space mission. That makes developed countries organize their own CanSat competitions around the world to encourage undergraduate and high school students to get interested in space science. This work makes a redesign of the CanSat subsystems taking into consideration the most popular available models nowadays, so that it can be adapted to Paraguayan educational needs and future programs. The methodology is carried out by performing the following steps: (1) Analyze the current designs by comparing mission requirements; (2) Idealize a new design taking into account the technical knowledge limitation that the students may have; (3) Implement the new design; (4) Organize a training course; (5) Launch the CanSats, collect the data; (6) Analyze the measured parameters such as temperature, pressure or acceleration; (7) Evaluate the experience. Besides, the comparison allows us to identify the features and restrictions in different CanSats projects. The students programming skills and electronics knowledge must be taken into account in order to select the most convenient platform to perform the new design, e.g. Arduino, PIC, Raspberry, etc. The implementation requires the integration of all the pico-satellite subsystems. Setting up the first CanSat training course for high school students in Paraguay will inspire them by providing new skills to solve real space engineering problems. During the flight, the CanSat should collect physics measurements and deploy successfully a parachute in order accomplish the planned mission. The students must analyze the collected data to perform a critical review of the design performance. Finally, the instructors, students and teachers will discuss and report the issues. Our design will be available for Paraguay Space Agency future training courses to a larger group of leaders from universities and high schools around the country. Impact on learning effectiveness will be assessed through rubrics tool where, indicators will be scored as low, medium and high. Criteria such as: a) experimentation and iteration, b) trial and debugging, c) reutilization and reinvention, d) abstraction and modularization (from Harvard Graduate School in Education) will be applied. In addition, problem solving competencies based on Polya method will be considered. It will have four steps, a) problem comprehension; b) plan set up, c) plan execution and, d) obtained solution analysis. All of this evaluation process is based on curricula by competency.

Kurita, J. H., & Ortiz Coronel, D., & Moreira Bogado, L. D., & Vega, B. F. (2020, June), CanSat Pico-satellite Building Workshop as an Effective Tool for STEAM Education, A Case Study Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34257

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