June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.1355.1 - 22.1355.12
Supplemental Instruction in Mathematics within a Mathematics/Software Engineering Co-Development Project to Dynamically Predict High-Altitude Balloon PathsAbstractThis work describes a co-development, student-centered project involving applied mathematicsand software engineering to address a need in the student high-altitude ballooning community. Ateam of four students completed this project as part of the requirements for a year-long JuniorProject Course Sequence in Software Engineering Technology (SET). This task not only walkedthe project team through the development of a rich software deliverable, but it also necessitatedthat the team develop a physics-based mathematical model to perform dynamic predictions inreal-time. The nature of the project required students to demonstrate learning outcomes inadvanced mathematics beyond what they normally see in their required math courses. Toaccomplish this, supplemental mathematics instruction (SMI) was offered to the students andincluded but was not limited to mathematical modeling, differential equations and numericalmethods.This project result is extremely valuable to student ballooning programs, especially those thatlaunch balloons over rugged terrain with minimal secondary roads. At present, several freelyavailable products exist to predict a high-altitude balloon flight path and payload landing site.However, these products typically use hours-old National Weather Service (NWS) sounding datato make static pre-launch predictions only. Such predictions are extremely susceptible tovariance as weather conditions change up until launch as well as during the balloon flight. Theproject used GPS position data acquired through an APRS (Automatic Position ReportingSystem) amateur radio-based system. The project married a tracking function with a dynamicprediction function that utilized the APRS data acquired in real-time. The system continuallyupdated predictions of the balloon flight path and the payload landing site. The team modeled thevertical motion of the balloon using Newton's 2nd Law and solved the corresponding differentialequations by applying a second order Runge-Kutta algorithm. A wind velocity field was initiallycreated using the hours-old NWS sounding data and subsequently updated using the quasi real-time GPS data acquired through the APRS radio system. The updated wind velocity field wasthen used in conjunction with the estimated altitude information to compute the flight path andlanding site predictions.This paper discusses the software engineering and mathematical components of the project aswell as the educational processes that led to a successful project completion. Project success washeavily reliant on the supplemental mathematics instruction and as such, conclusions and lessonslearned concerning the SMI are presented.
Fischer, J., & Kansaku, C. (2011, June), Supplemental Instruction in Mathematics within a Mathematics/Software Engineering Co-Development Project to Dynamically Predict High-Altitude Balloon Paths Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18635
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