[time-nuts] Modern College Education for Electronics - Cubesats - Real world training

John Ackermann N8UR jra at febo.com
Mon Nov 16 16:23:24 EST 2015

I've had a chance to see Jeff in action at Morehead, and what he and the 
team there are doing is really incredible -- and inspirational.  He's 
built a hands-on electronic and mechanical shop, mainly out of surplus 
stuff, that gives the students tremendous practical experience, while 
they are putting stuff on their resumes that will make them very employable.

And Jeff's surplus stuff is incredible -- among other things, he has a 
40 foot (I think) anechoic chamber for antenna testing.  And that 21M 
dish is fun to play with.  I keep bugging him to hook it to a decent 
frequency reference...

Jeff has hosted several ham radio technical events, and each time a 
bunch of his students were involved.  They seemed to enjoy it a lot, 
except for having to hang around with all the old white guys. :-/

On 11/16/2015 10:56 AM, Jeff Kruth via time-nuts wrote:
> Hi Guys!
> I have been watching this thread. And I have some comments on what I have
> read.  I teach at the undergrad & grad level in the Space Science  Center at
> Morehead State University. We have a Space Systems Engineering Degree
> track, BS & MS.  Couldnt call it EE as UK has an EE program, dup not  allowed in
> state system.
> Our students build a lot, do a lot of labs, learn RF, mechatronics,
> microprocessors, satellites. They learn Solidworks and Altium, do designs of  PCBs
> and H/W. We have a new 21 meter dish that they learn to drive and we track
> satellites for NASA and others. We have built 7 cubesat systems and had
> them  launched. Our kids actually build the satellites. For some things like
> solar  cell mounting, we have a "model-maker" quality staff guy do that, but
> otherwise  the students are at least waist deep in everything else. We hire
> some undergrads  and they work closely with staff. We have them use spec
> ans,, network  analyzers, the anechoic chamber, the CNC machine shop, the 3D
> printers for  mechanical verification, etc. We have a complete "shake & bake"
> qual lab  here with vacuum chamber, etc. We are a one stop shop for cubesat
> satellite  design and development. (Bob Twiggs, the cubesat co-inventor,
> works here!)
> I run the Undergrad and Masters thesis classes and make my student run
> their project as though it was an industry job, complete with a lot of writing
> like proposals, PDR,CDR, final report, budget, timeline, etc. They learn
> "the  process" and I have gotten excellent feedback on this over my 20 year
> teaching  stint on the usefulness of this approach.
> We have a good sized staff of older guys, like me, mostly in "retirement"
> (2nd job) mode, who are basically training their replacement in the work
> force.  All the older skills and the newer ones as well are used. A deadbug
> breadboard saves a lot of time in validating a design, but SMT stuff is tough
> to  do so we use modelling and PCB constructuion as well, both approaches
> are  useful & applicable.
> Currently we are the prime on the LunarIceCube bird slated for launch in
> 2018 looking for lunar water transport mechanisms. We are working with
> Goddard  & JPL.  Students are heavily involved and get a lot of exposure. We  have
> all who will bite at it get there ham ticket.
> The USA is in a lot of trouble as far as competent engineers goes, with the
>   graying of the workforce. Over 80 % of the RF engineers in the USA are 45
> or  older (I know, I am one of them and track the numbers).  Software apps
> for  your I-phone will not move us ahead in the world, things still need
> built and  tested in labs. What good is your wireless handheld thingy without
> the RF  part??
> Most schools do not have the facilities we have. In my case, I brought over
>   15 tractor trailer loads of RF gear and lab from my Maryland R&D  business
> here to Kentucky (because I am crazy, that's why!) and built a  facility at
> the school that is un-matched in the state. C-beams, multiple 8566B,  8510C
> vnas, etc. We do stuff, our students "see" stuff and we have paced people
> at some prestigious organizations. Goldstone wants some of our people for
> the  DSN.
> Anyway, the point is, there are a few places that blend "old-school" with
> state-of-the-art techniques to produce solid fresh-outs that can think with
> their hands and head.  This is our goal.  About 1/3 of our undergrad  class
> is women! And some of them absolutely love this stuff, eat it up! There is
> hopand not all schools are the same.
> Regards,
> Jeff Kruth, WA3ZKR
> Staff Electrical Engineer and Instructor
> Space Science Center
> Morehead State University
> Morehead, KY
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