June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.528.1 - 23.528.12
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is vital to Americancompetitiveness, yet relatively few students in the USA obtain a STEM bachelor’s degree. While thenumber of degrees awarded in the STEM fields increased modestly from 2003 to 2007, only 15.6 percentof bachelor’s degrees were awarded in these fields. Meanwhile, China awarded nearly half of its firstuniversity degrees in STEM fields (46.7 percent); South Korea awarded 37.8 percent; and Germanyawarded 28.1 percent.10-year employment projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that of the 20 fastestgrowing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or sciencepreparation. The Propulsion Demonstrator is a device developed by a NASA team to simulatethe behavior of a rocket during propulsion. The main purpose of this apparatus is to raiseawareness in STEM education.The operation of the original system is manual and collection and display of useful data is notpossible. The objective of this project is to develop a flexible and more efficient device that isoperated and controlled by an operator via a computer. The device can be assembled in less thanfive minutes prior to demonstration and acquires and displays useful data in real time. The teamhas built a basic functional unit that allows experimentation with a variety of expansion options.The redesigned system consists of the following major components: (1) a computer-controlledignition phase; (2) a programmable valve that allows control of oxygen flow during the ignitionphase and throughout the demonstration phases; (3) Temperature and pressure sensors inside therocket chamber to monitor the behavior of the system and allow computation of resulting thrust;and (4) a data acquisition board that allows temperature and pressure measurement, control ofthe valve, and monitoring the ignition process. The system is fully controlled by software viapush buttons in a LabVIEW programming environment.This paper documents the major components that were upgraded, including software, ignitionsystem, mass flow controller (valve), pressure sensor, temperature sensor, and a Data AcquisitionBoard (DAQ). The new device reduces the manual work, is user friendly, and provides accuratedata and measurements.
Bachnak, R., & Maldonado, S. C., & Gonzalez, F. G. (2013, June), Enhancements to a Propulsion Demonstrator Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19542
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