June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1266.1 - 12.1266.15
Senior Design and the US Space Program
ABET defines engineering as “the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to use economically the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.” Engineers are problem solvers. They graduate from school with a formal education and a set of “tools”. In addition to the tools of societal knowledge and principles that will enable them to become contributing members of their social and professional communities, these tools include basic science, mathematics, engineering science, and discipline-specific engineering principles. Many engineering programs provide exposure to real-world design challenges for their students before graduation. This paper discusses a program suitable for mechanical engineering senior design projects in support of the U.S. space program, specifically NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.
The Texas Space Grant Consortium (“TSGC”) sponsors the TSGC DESIGN CHALLENGE, a unique experience for undergraduate students to propose, design and fabricate a solution to a topic of importance to NASA and its mission. After proposal acceptance, the student team and faculty advisor are paired with a research-directed mentor. The teams then have an opportunity to engage in scientific research and hands-on design of space-related topics.
Three mechanical engineering student teams from Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas had their project proposals accepted. The topics were: Team 1) Lunar Lander, Heat Pump for Thermal Control of Space Vehicles; Team 2) Multi-Environment Evaporative Heat Sink Design; and Team 3) Unpressurized Manned Rover for Use on the Moon or Mars. A systematic management method was developed to ensure that the TSGC projects met usual expectations for academic levels or disciplines required by ABET. This paper surveys that TSGC-sponsored activity and discusses these space-oriented design team efforts in the context of satisfying both senior design project requirements while addressing topics of interest to NASA JSC.
The undergraduate curriculum in mechanical engineering at Lamar University has a prescribed number of credit hours of math, science, and engineering. Students graduate from the program with a good, basic mechanical engineering education that prepares them for success in a variety of career fields. The faculty complements this education by sponsoring and encouraging such things as participation in activities outside the traditional mechanical engineering curriculum. Exposure to, and participation in, the U.S. space program is one example of that “extra” benefit of a degree from Lamar University.
The US Space Program
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”) was created on October 1, 1958, "to provide for research into the problems of flight within and outside the Earth's atmosphere and
Corder, P., & Zhou, J., & Aung, K. (2007, June), Senior Design And The U.S. Space Program Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2554
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