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Student Ballooning Project: An Effort To Create Sustainable Undergraduate Research Experience In A Minority Institution

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Developing Young MINDS in Engineering - Part I

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1113.1 - 15.1113.12



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Paper Authors


Atin Sinha Albany State University

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Atin Sinha is the Professor and Coordinator of the Engineering Program at Albany State University. He received his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Tennessee Space Institute in 1984. He had worked in Learjet and Honeywell before moving to
academia in 1990. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer. Currently, he is engaged in motivating undergraduate students in inquiry based learning through hands-on, realistic projects.

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

Student Ballooning Project: An Effort to Create Sustainable Undergraduate Research Experience in a Minority Institution


High altitude ballooning project has gradually become an accepted method of initiating undergraduate students in scientific research through an exciting “out of the world” perspective. Traditionally student ballooning projects throughout the country have been led either by military academies or major research universities. Only recently, through an NSF sponsored effort, some of the minority universities are getting initiated into the student ballooning project that starts with a summer training program of faculty/student teams and continues throughout the following academic year with an expanded student body to design and launch a new payload. The summer experience for the team from Albany State University and subsequent student activities towards payload design with an aim to launch in next summer is described here. Successful launch and retrieval of the scientific data is hoped to inspire the next batch of students to continue the ballooning project as a sustainable research program.


High altitude ballooning project by undergraduate students have been attempted by a number of universities in the past. In general these projects have proved that undergraduate students are capable of working on a complex scientific problem on their own with moderate supervision if they can be motivated to be part of an exciting project. Apart from the obvious scientific merit of such projects, one significant outcome is the research experience gained by the students in cross- disciplinary and team oriented problem solving practice that is so valuable in today’s highly competitive global market.

To date only a handful of universities have been able to sustain the student ballooning activity on an ongoing basis. Minority institutions have only recently started developing their own ballooning projects either in conjunction with such an existing activity or as a standalone effort. Albany State University (ASU), a historically black university, located in the south, is one such institution that has just started to develop a student ballooning project as a mechanism to establish sustainable research experience for the science and engineering students.

Historical Background

Student ballooning project is going on in different parts of USA since the mid 1990. Liefer1 of U.S. Air Force academy described the early history of student balloon payload projects in U.S. with particular reference to the first student built “balloon satellite” launch in spring of 1995. Wick2 of U.S. Naval Academy reported a junior level project of a balloon-borne environmental sensing mission in a sensor course in systems engineering major. The systems engineering approach was introduced in the classroom at University of North Dakota by Won3 through the design, document, build and launch of Scorpio Alpha and Scorpio II between 2000 and 2001. Ellison4 of Louisiana State University described the BalloonSat program for launching multiple student built small payloads carrying different science experiments. More

Sinha, A. (2010, June), Student Ballooning Project: An Effort To Create Sustainable Undergraduate Research Experience In A Minority Institution Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15948

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