Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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James A. Flaten
Associate Director of the MN Space Grant Consortium and Contract Assistant Professor

Contact information
Office: 205C Akerman Hall
Phone: 612-626-9295
E-mail: flate001 (at)

Professor Flaten serves as the Associate Director of the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium (MnSGC), a NASA higher education program, which involves state-wide promotion of all-things-NASA-related. He teaches NASA-related classes, including freshman seminars on high-altitude ballooning and high-power rocketry, and also works with college students and faculty (and others) on out-of-class NASA-related projects including building and flying miniature spacecraft into the stratosphere using weather balloons, developing science payloads for NASA suborbital rocket flights, and mentoring student teams participating in high-power rocketry competitions. Professor Flaten also conducts teacher workshops and outreach activities at local schools and for the general public on aerospace, astronomy, physics, and engineering. His formal academic background is in low-temperature experimental physics and he particularly enjoys the connections between physics and sound (especially musical instruments), physics and art (especially art using unusual optics), and physics and Halloween (including an annual display of "spooky" physics demonstrations at the Mystery Science Lab in the CSE Math & Science Fun Fair ).


B.A., Physics and Mathematics (with Computer Science emphasis), Carleton College, 1987

Ph.D., Physics, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, 1997


2005 to present - Associate Director of the MN Space Grant and Contract Assistant Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Department, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN
2001 to 2005 - Assistant Professor, Physics Department, Luther College, Decorah, IA
1997 to 2001 - Assistant Professor, Physics Department, University of Minnesota - Morris, Morris, MN
1991 to 1997 - Graduate Student Teaching and Research Assistant, Physics Department, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN
1988 to 1991 - Physics Instructor, The Hill School (a private high school), Pottstown, PA

Subjects and Courses Taught

  • AEM 1905 (Freshman Seminar) - Introduction to Spaceflight with Ballooning
  • AEM 1905 (Freshman Seminar) - High-Power Rocketry
  • AEM 2011 - Statics
  • AEM 3031 - Deformable Body Mechanics
  • AEM 4495 - Space Vehicle Systems (with ballooning project)

Last Modified: 2014-01-09 at 15:23:13 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation