AEM Offers a new Project-Based Class for Freshmen
James Flaten, Associate Director of the MN Space Grant and AEM Contract Assistant Professor, was selected to pilot two sections of CSE 1002 - a new Project-Based Inquiry class for CSE freshmen. The first section engaged ten freshmen in a high-altitude balloon mission to the stratosphere. The students built miniature near-space-craft and equipped them with video cameras, a variety of sensors, and Arduino-microcontroller data loggers to monitor environmental conditions during the two-hour flight. The balloon mission was flown in southern Minnesota on April 12, 2014 and used GPS-enabled ham radios for real-time tracking and recovery. In addition to the science experiments, students also flew Goldy Gopher in a tiny spacesuit. See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxApfU8DqUs
The second section of CSE 1002 engaged seven freshmen from Dr. Flaten's fall semester AEM 1905 freshman seminar on high-power rocketry to continue development of a rocket to enter in the Midwest Space Grant Regional High-Power Rocket competition - hosted in the AEM Department by the MN Space Grant in late April. Their rocket, called "Redshift 7," flew to just over 3,000 feet on a K-motor during the competition on April 26, 2014. The students designed the rocket with RockSim software, built it from scratch (more than once), characterized its drag coefficient and center of pressure in the AEM wind tunnels, outfitted it with sensors to characterize its flight performance (a competition requirement), wrote two reports and did one oral presentation for the competition judges. Exceptional experience for freshmen, not all of whom even plan to major in AEM!
One requirement of both CSE 1002 groups was that they exhibit their work at the CSE Expo for the over-2,000 middle school students who visited campus on April 25, 2014. Both CSE 1002 groups set up in the Akerman Hangar Lobby, along with a UAV exhibit, and spoke to groups of middle school students who circulated every 10 minutes. The ballooning team inflated an actual weather balloon and reconstructed the stack of experiment payloads that had been carried to near-space two weeks earlier. The rocket team showed off their completed rocket - the day before it was to fly in the actual competition - and also did a model rocket engine test firing in a test stand outside of the building. The exhibits of both CSE 1002 groups were well-received by the middle school student students and their teachers.