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

Tom Holmes tholmes at woh.rr.com
Mon Nov 16 19:01:30 EST 2015

Hi Jeff...

" and built a  facility at 
the school that is un-matched in the state."

I have to take issue with that statement. I get around to a lot of schools in my work and yours is un-matched in many states!


Tom Holmes, N8ZM

-----Original Message-----
From: time-nuts [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On Behalf Of Jeff Kruth via time-nuts
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2015 10:56 AM
To: time-nuts at febo.com
Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Modern College Education for Electronics - Cubesats - Real world training

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.
Jeff Kruth, WA3ZKR
Staff Electrical Engineer and Instructor
Space Science Center
Morehead State University
Morehead, KY
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