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.

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.

Fig 1: Project Interdisciplinary Scheme
This project is an opportunity to encourage collaboration between with different universities in Puerto Rico while at the same time promoting a higher degree of learning. The objective of the Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium (PRSGC) is to enhance Puerto Rico’s research, education and workforce in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). With this in mind, the participating universities are assigned a part in the CubeSats construction. The University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez is tasked with building and testing the electronic power supply (EPS). The Inter American University of Puerto Rico-Bayamon will focus on the structural and mechanical design of the CubeSat. As an example of the progress obtained through interdisciplinary research, this paper will focus on the EPS developed by UPRM and how the collaboration with other institutions and disciplines made it possible.
This article is organized in the following manner: section II describes the CubeSat project in general and how the EPS gives functionality to the system. Section III details the results obtained from the UPRMs EPS. A short description of the history of UPRM and its ECE department is given in section IV. Section V describes the collaborations made with other institutions. Section VI focuses on the educational impact this project has had on students, universities and Puerto Rico. Finally section VII presents the conclusion obtained.