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The Western Michigan University Launch Initiative: Challenges and Opportunities for a New University Small Satellite Team

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Aerospace Hot Topic: Unmanned Aerial Systems

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Hudson Western Michigan University

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Jennifer Hudson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Western Michigan University. Her research interests include dynamics and control of spacecraft and other complex systems.

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Kristina Lemmer Western Michigan University

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Assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Research focus: electric propulsion, small satellite propulsion, plasma diagnostics, plasma engineering.

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University small satellite programs have grown dramatically in the past decade. More than 100 universities now host small satellite programs and more than 50 universities have launched multiple satellites. These programs offer opportunities for students to build research skills, enhance learning through application of engineering concepts, and improve job preparation. This paper presents lessons learned on starting a new student small satellite organization within the environment of a new aerospace engineering program. In the last three years, the Western Aerospace Launch Initiative (WALI) team was established as a student organization at Western Michigan University dedicated to small satellite design and other high-altitude flight experiments. As a new program, WALI has faced challenges in maintaining student involvement and cultivating student leadership. This paper presents preliminary results on the effectiveness of several methods, including enrollment tasks, hands-on technical workshops, and student travel and presentation opportunities, for recruiting and training engineering students for leadership in the small satellite team.

Hudson, J., & Lemmer, K. (2017, June), The Western Michigan University Launch Initiative: Challenges and Opportunities for a New University Small Satellite Team Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29023

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