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A Curriculum-Integrated Small Spacecraft Program for Interdisciplinary Education
AIAA Space 2013 Conference (2013)
  • Jeremy Straub
  • Anders Nervold
  • Josh Berk

Space generates inspiration, aspiration, and passion in many students, traits that are often lacking in the traditional college classroom. By utilizing a meaningful space project with a tangible product, which serves a valuable purpose in the curriculum, instructors can generate passion in their students with regards to the topics being explored. Additionally, it can fuel interest in aerospace science and commerce, guiding more students towards valuable STEM degrees and job opportunities, which can lead to future growth and fresh blood in the aging aerospace employee pool.

OpenOrbiter is a student-run research project at the University of North Dakota that can serve as a basis for developing this type of integrated interdisciplinary education. To date, it has involved over 200 students. When the design specifications, called the Open Prototype for Educational NanoSats (OPEN), are published, a cross-departmental effort towards building a CubeSat for as little as $5,000 (payload excluded) in parts cost is possible.

This cross-departmental effort can span across both undergraduate and graduate programs and include a large number of college departments. The professors in these departments can create suitable projects that involve the small spacecraft in their curriculum. This paper evaluates both qualitative and quantitative benefits that this type of integrated approach has in fostering interest in STEM degrees, increasing students’ enthusiasm for class materials.

  • educational benefits,
  • OpenOrbiter,
  • small spacecraft,
  • CubeSat,
  • spacecraft development
Publication Date
September, 2013
Publisher Statement
Copyright © 2013 by Jeremy Straub. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.
Citation Information
Jeremy Straub, Anders Nervold and Josh Berk. "A Curriculum-Integrated Small Spacecraft Program for Interdisciplinary Education" AIAA Space 2013 Conference (2013)
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