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.

Introduction

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.

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The CubeSat Project

A CubeSat is a miniature satellite originally designed for space science. Conceived as an educational tool, they have managed to challenge traditional satellite standards and are recognized for their potential utility by space and research agencies around the world [3]. These projects are primarily led primarily by universities and non-US space groups. Government agencies have sponsored the development of these projects through organizations such as; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and through the Department of Energy (DoE) [4]. CubeSats are mainly composed of several units; an on-board computer, control and communication systems, among other measurement devices.

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CubeSat Electronic Power Supply Results

The EPS prototype is an example of how interdisciplinary research can aid the achievement of a common objective. The EPS was constructed based on the needs of the SPICA CubeSat established by the UIPR-Bayamon. The EPS is constructed on a 9cm x 9cm PCB, with a total weight of 0.071kg in order to comply with the CubeSat size and weight limitations. The constructed CubeSat EPS is shown in fig. 4. Fig. 5 illustrates the obtained output voltages of the CubeSats EPS.

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UPRM ECE Department

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.

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Collaboration With other Institutes

The design and construction of a satellite is a multidisciplinary effort, involving aspects of all fields of engineering [8]. It is not expected that a single group should design and construct the entire CubeSat. For this task to be achieved it is essential to involve several groups, from different institutes [9]. The UPRM and the UIPR-Bayamon collaborate with UPRRP through the Puerto Rico NASA Space Grant Foundation as well as through PRIDCO.

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