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.

The University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez is a public university located in the municipality of Mayaguez; Puerto Rico established in 1911.UPRM offers 52 bachelor's programs, 28 master's programs and five doctoral programs. Moreover, it has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1946 and by ABET, ranking among the top 10 U.S. universities in the field of engineering.

The Electrical Engineering Program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). The curriculum provides a general education in mathematics, science, and humanities and emphasis in selected areas. Currently, the UPRM’s ECE Department has nearly 1,100 students which represents nearly 10% of the whole UPRM’s student population and more that 20% of the UPRM College of Engineering’ student population. Also, the ECE Department's research and graduate programs involve 14 laboratories, groups and centers, more than 40 graduate-level courses, 49 faculty members with PhD degree, 2 adjunct professors, nearly 1,100 undergraduate students and over 60 graduated students. At the present, the ECE department offers BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering and a Ph.D. in Computer Informatics Science and Engineering. By the year 2015, the ECE department expects to start two new academic programs in addition to the existing ones. These two new programs will be: 1) the first Ph.D. program in electrical engineering in Puerto Rico and the rest of the US Territories; and 2) BS program in Computer Informatics Science and Engineering. The ECE Department offers several areas of specialization that could be applied to aerospace systems: control systems (e.g. trajectory optimization), electronics (e.g. IC for energy harvesting), power electronics (e.g. high density power supplies for satellites), computing systems (e.g. cyber security), and communications (e.g. wireless communications). The ECE department has a variety of existing courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Over the years the ECE department has shown a growth in interest in the field of aerospace technologies. Table I shows examples of ECE courses that could be used for education on aerospace systems.