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Spirit Ii: A Report Of Two Long Duration Undergraduate Sounding Rocket Projects

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1025.1 - 8.1025.8



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Paper Authors

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Timothy Wheeler

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1532

SPIRIT I and II: A Progress Report from Penn State’s long-duration Undergraduate Sounding Rocket Project

Timothy F. Wheeler The Pennsylvania State University


The Student Projects Involving Rocket Investigation Techniques (SPIRIT) Undergraduate Sounding Rocket Program will have launched its second student payload this spring. In its seventh year, SPIRIT has been a successful exploration of non-traditional methods of engineering education. A final SPIRIT payload highlighting an international collaboration with Norway is under development.

At the time of this writing, SPIRIT II is ready to launch. We are hopeful that a launch opportunity will be offered in early April. We present preliminary conclusions about the outcome of that project and lessons learned from the manifold differences between these two efforts. We resist the temptation to ascribe value judgments such as “success/failure”. Work on a program evaluation is ongoing. Rather, our purpose is to compare the two very different outcomes of SPIRIT I and SPIRIT II. In addition, we present the current evolution of the characteristics and goals of this unique program.

Characteristics of a “SPIRIT Project”

The SPIRIT projects are designed to provide a supportive environment1,2 for students to demonstrate newly acquired skills and to learn about themselves. Membership is open to engineers and non-engineers of all levels of experience. The project begins with a stated scientific objective and the suggestion of a complement of instruments to meet that objective. Student interest is a strong determinant of what instruments are actually built. A companion course provides a forum for presentation of new material and discussion of project issues. The project follows a standard formal project timeline with a series of at least three pre-launch review meetings held with engineers at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility3.

Project work is organized in the confines of five work teams. These teams are defined by function (TM, publicity, Power & Wiring, Structures, and Experiments). Due only to the nature of the various tasks, the teams represent very different learning environments. Each is led by a student

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Wheeler, T. (2003, June), Spirit Ii: A Report Of Two Long Duration Undergraduate Sounding Rocket Projects Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12124

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