STRATA-1: A Public/Private/Academic Partnership for Undergraduate Applied Research
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American Society for Engineering Education, 2016. Undergraduate students learn and assimilate more when motivated. Few activities are more motivating to a young engineer than working on real-world, applied research projects. The Mobile Integrated Solutions Laboratory (MISL) at Texas A&M University has been highly successful in developing spacebased embedded hardware/software products and systems. Many of these are used to monitor and control science experiments that are slated for operation on the International Space Station (ISS). Texas Space Technology Applications and Research (T STAR), a small start-up company, was recently contracted by NASA-JSC to assist in creating an experiment that will study the effects of micro-gravity on Regolith for over a year on the ISS. T STAR then approached MISL to provide the embedded intelligence system that will monitor, control, record, and report all aspects of the experiment during its year-long investigation. Three undergraduate students were assigned to the project which was delivered approximately six weeks after grant funding was received. NASA plans to have its experiment (STRATA-1) aboard the SpaceX-9 launch later this year. This paper provides an overview of the project, the students' approach to translating the problem statement into a functional and tested product, the lessons learned from a multipartner development effort and an update of the project following installation and operation on the ISS.