June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.343.1 - 24.343.17
CubeSat: A Multidisciplinary Senior Design ProjectAbstractEngineering and computer science programs often require a culminating senior design project.Several of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditationoutcomes are best demonstrated in the context of such a project. These include the ability todesign a system, process or component to meet desired needs and the ability to function on amultidisciplinary team. At XXXXX University (XXXX) engineering and computer sciencestudents are assigned to work on a group senior design project during their senior year. Thispaper describes a recent XXXX senior design project in which engineering (computer, electrical,and mechanical) and computer science students work on a multidisciplinary team to design, build,test, and eventually launch a CubeSat carrying a research experiment.A CubeSat is a miniature satellite (20 x 10 x 10 cm) capable of carrying an onboard experimentinto space. CubeSats are launched free of charge as part of government and commercial satellitelaunches around the world and have a potential lifetime of years, orbiting the earth every ninetyminutes. This project also extends to the design and construction of a telecommunicationsground station, complete with mission control, to command and control the CubeSat during itsmission and retrieve the valuable scientific data it will produce.The project offers a wealth of educational and technical opportunities ranging from projectmanagement, unique design challenges, rigorous constraints, extensive testing and the demandfor excellence in execution. Students must overcome daunting real-life problems to carry out amission that will have tangible consequences in future space missions. They must wrestle withthe scale of a project involving several subsystems which have to be brought together seamlesslyand where any failure threatens the mission. Student members have had to adopt the skills ofworking with project members outside their discipline, to communicate, coordinate andcooperate through meetings, reports and documentation. They have learned firsthand the reasonsfor requirements, timelines, interface control documents, power and thermal budgets and testplans.The fact that this is a real mission, not a simulation or class exercise, motivates students toexpand their knowledge, re-orient their thinking and refine their skills. They approach theirwork with pride knowing that this is something that literally the whole world will see. Thismotivation extends well beyond senior design. Lower level students are volunteering for thismulti-year project, taking back to the classrooms questions that have challenged them andsearching for the skills they now know they will need when it comes time for them to provethemselves to finish the design and put it in space.
Kaplan, A., & Flynn, J., & Katz, S. (2014, June), CubeSat: A Multidisciplinary Senior Design Project Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20234
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