Introduction to Exploration

Science and engineering of Earth, solar system, and space exploration. Experimental design, engineering design; teaming; the professions of science and engineering.

I was a teaching assistant (TA) at Arizona State University (ASU) for SES 100 for Fall 2018 and Fall 2019 semesters. Due to the world helium shortage, after Fall 2018 we could no longer do the standard class project which includes aerial photography from helium balloons. During the summer of 2019, I redesigned the class project for SES 100 under the supervision of Dr. Craig Hardgrove, who performed the majority of the class lecture. We needed to change the class project to a “drop” project which consisted of students making a device that could 1) descend safely without breaking and 2) take a timed photo of something on the ground. I designed the new class project based on a NASA-like proposal system model:

The “AO”: Students first submit a 1-page “abstract” about which planetary body they are most interested in and why. They also need to include which type of role they think they are best suited for: scientist, engineer, project manager, etc.. Based on their responses in their proposals, students are assigned into groups of 4 – 5, using their interests, skillsets, presumed roles, and quality of proposal. This way, we have fairly well-balanced groups going forward and can pair students that lack some skills with students who lack other skills. Vice versa, we can pair different student strengths together in hopes that they build on each other and learn in a group setting. We want to foster good teamwork and project development and have students realize that while they may be weak in one aspect, they may be strong elsewhere.

The Proposal: The next stage of the project, is for students to submit a group proposal. This proposal is longer, requiring more background information, a problem statement, brainstormed solutions, possible project risks, etc.. Students also submit individual group member evaluations.

Preliminary Design Report: The students then progress to their preliminary design reports. These reports should have everything from the previous proposal, but now students have added in their finalized engineering designs, camera field of view calculations, physics calculations for their apparatus, and a preliminary budget of materials. Students also submit individual group member evaluations.

Final Design Report: The final submission of the project occurs after the students have fully built and tested their devices. They then submit a finalized project design report which includes everything from the preliminary design report and proposal, along with final measurements, photographs, calculations, budget, etc.. Students also submit their final individual group member evaluations. After the reports are submitted, students are sent a survey about the project.