Puerto Rico’s First CubeSat: Multidisciplinary Research Project to Attract STEM Students into the Area of Aerospace Systems

The purpose of this paper is to present an interdisciplinary research project using Cubesats to attract engineering students to the area of aerospace systems.

Puerto Rico CubeSat

CubeSats are miniature satellites designed for space science explorations. Due to their low cost and reduced size, not only have they earned an eminent position in the field of space exploration but they have also become a reliable tool for space education. This project is the first low-cost cubesat developed in Puerto Rico as a joint program between the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (UPRM), the Inter American University of Puerto Rico- Bayamon (UIPRB), the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras (UPRRP), and the University of Turabo. It is financially supported by the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) and the Puerto Rico National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Grant. The main objective is to promote interdisciplinary research in the area of aerospace systems with the collaboration of graduate and undergraduate students from electrical, mechanical and computer engineering departments. The multidisciplinary process consists of the design, simulation, and construction of each subsystem of the Cubesat. Each university is responsible of building at least one subsystem. Focus is given to the Cubesats Electronic Power Supply (EPS) constructed by the UPRM. Once the project is finalized, the expected end result is a working Cubesat capable of space science exploration.

The Puerto Rico Space Grant

The NASA Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium (PRSGC) enhances local research and education capabilities in NASA-related fields and contributes to the Nation's Science and Technology enterprise by capitalizing on the institutional and human capital available on the Island. PRSGC resides in the Resource Center for Science and Engineering, with the Central Administration of the University of Puerto Rico as the Lead Institution and 17 public and private affiliate institutions.

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It is evident that research and development has become an essential part of a large number of engineering universities for its significant contributions to society

[1]. Despite the global impact research conveys, it is mostly a closed group effort. Specific groups (Companies, Organizations, Universities, Departments, etc.) work towards achieving an objective. Engineering research should no longer be constrained to single agencies; interdisciplinary efforts should aid in accomplishing global objectives. Recently universities have adopted interdisciplinary approaches collaborating with other institutes in order to expand ideas and improve teaching methods.

[2]. As part of the Puerto Rico NASA Space Grant, different universities have merged together in order to design and construct Puerto Rico’s first Cubesat. Fig. 1 illustrates a diagram of the different universities, agencies and departments collaborating in this project.

Collaborating in this Project