In November of last year, a group of curious elementary school students filed into the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Building (FXB), home of the Department of Aerospace Engineering. This group is FIRST LEGO League team #37463, The Hyper Novas, eager to explore the theme of this year’s FIRST LEGO League competition: space.
From the moment the team, along with their coach Helen Yuan, walked into the FXB, they were surrounded by decades of cutting-edge space research and discovery. In the atrium, the team got a chance to watch AERO 205 students practice their custom-built RC hovercraft and learn about the system used on the hovercrafts. The team’s coach said the students all loved seeing the moon rock in the atrium display cases.
The team inquisitively explored labs and student projects to learn more about the department’s spaces. Aerospace Engineering Technician Chris Chartier led them to the Gorguze Family Laboratory (GFL) to explore the wind tunnel spaces as well as the Michigan Aeronautical Science Association’s (MASA) rockets. Chris Chartier spoke to the students of MASA’s successes as a student team. One Hyper Nova member recalls, “I like the model rockets UM students built. They won the competitions!”
The team moved back to the FXB to see Prof. James W. Cutler’s Michigan eXploration Laboratory (MXL). Nathaniel England spoke on behalf of MXL and gave the team a presentation about satellite engineering concepts, most notably the satellite rotation mechanism and accompanying circuitry. They learned that satellites can communicate with ground stations at the University of Michigan and how important designing each individual component is.
Prof. Cutler’s MXL Laboratory provides students with the opportunity to operate, test, build, and design small satellites for science and technology demonstrations as well as high altitude balloon missions or novel flight vehicles. In addition to this, MXL provides outreach opportunities to groups such as The Hyper Novas, as well as partnering with local groups for their launches.
The Hyper Novas came out of the FXB with new knowledge and perspective that inspired them for their FIRST LEGO League competition. We wish The Hyper Novas best of luck in their endeavours in the competition!