|UNL reaches new heights in CANSAT competition results
Huskers succeed at annual student design-build-launch competition for space-related projects
Nebraska Engineering is rising in the world of CANSAT competition. At the 2010 event hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Husker team earned a fourth place finish among 18 teams, with Big Red moving up from seventh place at the 2009 gathering.
Mechanical engineering senior Joe Bartels, concluding his year as UNL’s AIAA chapter president, described the play-by-play leading up to the June event (which preceded his wedding by just one week): “Our AIAA team started preparing at the end of January. After spring classes ended, we worked every night for a couple of hours, though closer to event the hours were more like 6 p.m. to midnight.”
“The main difference this year was that a helicopter launched the entries from 1,000 feet up, a mid-year change due to field conditions in Amarillo, Tex.,” Bartels said. “Our CANSAT design had to carry a raw chicken egg in a payload configuration weighing less than 500 grams without the egg. The goal was to land it without breaking the egg, but no parachute could be used. During the competition, every team’s egg broke except two (that had an umbrella-type design). We were really competitive with the Penn State engineering team this year; our traditional rival, Michigan Engineering, had less presence at the event.”
“We succeeded in the competition’s design reviews during February and April, when we submitted presentations including video and PowerPoint,” Bartels said. It was a busy time, as he was also part of UNL’s 2010 Microgravity Team, working with NASA during those months. “For CANSAT, I think we had a good grasp of how an aerospace project goes, with budgeting and scheduling aspects that simulated a real aerospace work process.”
Bartels appreciated the CANSAT group’s teamwork: “This experience showed us how to work together, but also to divide the tasks so that everybody had their own part of the project. As we approached the event, we started meshing to see how things would turn out, and by the end it all worked pretty well. My role was the computer electronics part of it, with an eye for systems engineering. If we found any trouble in our work, our team sat down together and brainstormed ways to figure it out.” Team adviser was Professor Kevin Cole and students included Alex Baruth, Alexandra Toftul, Andrew Kelley, Charles Rice, David Trinh, Joe Bartels, Matthew Mahlin, Miranda Barr, Nathan Legband, Renzo Callirgos, and Sydney Schaaf. Bartels, Barr, Mahlin and Rice were the travel team representing Nebraska in Texas.
Bartels plans to graduate in December and then begin graduate studies in mechanical engineering at UNL, where he hopes to specialize in robotics. From the 2010 UNL CANSAT travel team, mechanical engineering student Miranda Barr will serve as UNL’s AIAA chapter president for 2010-11, and she looks to continue efforts to keep UNL’s CANSAT participation on the rise.