Presentation #508.03 in the session Education and Outreach.
We report on a planetary suborbital flight experiment entirely designed and built by undergraduate engineering students. The experiment is called Microgravity Experiment for Speed of Sound (MESS) and aims at measuring the speed of sound in asteroid regolith simulant under microgravity condition. It was funded by the Florida Space Grant Consortium (FSGC) and the Florida Space Institute (FSI) and flew with Blue Origin’s P12 New Shepard suborbital rocket as a Mini-Payload.
At any given time, the student team was composed of one Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering student, one Electrical Engineering student, and one Computer Science student. Due to the pandemic, the project stretched of five semesters instead of two and, as more senior students graduated, new students were integrated into the team to take over. For this reason, students were not only trained in hands-on skills in their respective areas of expertise and integrated team work, but also in mentoring and project management as well. They learned to handle deadlines and project documentation, and overall, had an exceptional experience preparing them for their post-graduation professional life.
Students who were involved in the project and graduated all went on to pursue space-related careers, including Aerospace Engineering/Planetary Sciences graduate programs as well as jobs in the thriving space industry.