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Modular Integrated Stackable Layer (MISL): An Academic–Public Sector Partnership for Rapid Prototyping and Development

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Robotics, Automation, and Product Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1167.1 - 26.1167.9



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Paper Authors


Joseph A. Morgan Texas A&M University

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Joseph A. Morgan has over 20 years of military and industry experience in electronics and communications systems engineering. He joined the Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution Department in 1989 and has served as the Program Director of the Electronics and Telecommunications Programs and as the Associate Department Head for Operations. He has served as Director of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer in the private sector and currently a partner in a small start-up venture. He received his BS degree in electrical engineering (1975) from California State University, Sacramento, and his MS (1980) and DE (1983) degrees in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University. His education and research interests include project management, innovation and entrepreneurship, and embedded product/system development.

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Jay R Porter Texas A&M University

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Jay R. Porter joined the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University in 1998 and is currently the Program Coordinator for the Electronics Systems Engineering Technology Program. He received the BS degree in electrical engineering (1987), the MS degree in physics (1989), and the Ph.D. in electrical engineering (1993) from Texas A&M University. His areas of interest in research and education include product development, analog/RF electronics, instrumentation, and entrepreneurship.

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Modular Integrated Stackable Layer (MISL): An Academic-Public Sector Partnership for Rapid Prototyping and DevelopmentThe rapid product development process continues to increase demands on hardware prototypingtools. These tools need to create prototypes with higher levels of functional integration toaccommodate a diverse selection of embedded intelligence, sensors, actuators, communicationsand data storage technologies. In addition, the turn-around time from prototype tocommercialized product continues to decrease so that companies can be first to market necessaryto gain important market share. Although there are a number of hardware development toolsavailable, none of these fully meets the demanding requirements of the aerospace, automotive,communications, medical, petrochemical industries. Based on a number of successful appliedresearch and capstone design projects, the Controls and Data Handling Branch at NationalAeronautics and Space Administration - Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC) recently formed adevelopment partnership for its unique Modular Integrated Stackable Layer (MISL) architecturewith the XXXXX Program at XXXXX University. The MISL architecture encompasses a seriesof layers (printed circuit boards) that can be quickly “stacked” into a small form factor footprintthat provides a wide range of technologies. Developers can quickly configure a application-specific configuration by selecting from multiple options for power, microcontroller,communications, sensors and other signal conditioning circuitry. The XXXX Program has threeprimary responsibilities to the newly formed partnership: 1) New layer design, 2) Educationalcourse and laboratory material development, 3) Establishment of an open developmentcommunity environment. This paper provides an overview of the MISL partnership, theeducational and research activities that have been successfully conducted to date, the lessonslearned, and the move forward plans for the space qualified rack-and-stack hardwaredevelopment platform.

Morgan, J. A., & Porter, J. R. (2015, June), Modular Integrated Stackable Layer (MISL): An Academic–Public Sector Partnership for Rapid Prototyping and Development Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24504

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