Asee peer logo

Real Engineering: Space – Experiential, Community Engaged and Sustainable Learning in Space Engineering

Download Paper |


2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

LEES 5: Preparing and Practicing Culturally and Ethically Sensitive Engagement

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Franz Newland York University

visit author page

Franz Newland is a romantic idealist, and an Associate Professor in Space Engineering at York University in Toronto, having previously worked for over 15 years in the space industry both in Canada and Europe. Regarding engineering education development, he is interested in interdisciplinary spaces, and spaces where students can experiencing learning and working in ways that the future of the space industry should emulate. He is a Professional Engineer registered in the Province of Ontario, registered as a Chartered Engineer in the UK, an Associate Fellow of the AIAA and a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

visit author page


Raghad El-Shebiny York University

visit author page

MSc Candidate at Lassonde School of Engineering in York University

visit author page

author page

Olivia Alsop York University

Download Paper |


In many undergraduate engineering programs, sustainability and community engagement are “add-ons”: The undergraduate engineering graduate attributes that address issues such as communications, the role of engineers for society and the environment, ethics, or lifelong learning, are often taught in standalone courses in otherwise packed “technical” curricula, where connections to engineering can be tenuous. Student workloads fail to represent the humane, ethical society we try to instill, with study schedules that disrupt healthy eating, sleeping, or engagement with the world. Engineering education rarely has student-centric pathways and flexible assessment to overcome systemic barriers to diverse learning. Attempts to tackle these challenges individually often prove difficult, where the issues are often intertwined. As a result, the Space Engineering program at the Lassonde School of Engineering is aiming to tackle these issues concurrently. In a first pilot run of a small slice of the new program, students developed a space mission concept to change the power dynamics around water quality in northern Canada, giving communities direct control of data to measure their water quality and quantities. The designed mission had to be implementable sustainably, with the community engaged at every stage. This concept is being developed into a full 4-year program, where students will choose a managed path through project activities that give them all the core and complementary content of a traditional space program. Students will design, build, launch and operate a CubeSat mission, with a community, every 4 years, to address a societal need in a sustainable way. This could then inspire other disciplines both in Engineering and beyond.

Newland, F., & El-Shebiny, R., & Alsop, O. (2022, August), Real Engineering: Space – Experiential, Community Engaged and Sustainable Learning in Space Engineering Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2022 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015