Engineering Projects : An extended overview.
This graduate project was tasked by SNC with evaluating the human factors of layout within the
cabin. The project was scoped down to just focus on cockpit design. This was inclusive of control
selection, instrument selection, and human factors for the entire mission profile. The team was
treated like an effective sub-contractor for the SNC Dreamchaser team. We were given review
milestones, some broad requirements and the basics to get started on our design evaluation.
(Creative Commons Image: http://tinyurl.com/c8rtnm8)
We were a small group of 7 people so many hats were worn by every engineer throughout the
semester and most every output had everyone working on it to some degree. Initial efforts were
to define project scope through a leading considerations document and review. From this our
primary roles were defined and requirements were created for each subsystem. We all put on
our project manager hats and worked to develop a gantt chart schedule that was linked to the
requirements directly. This was an iterative process that allowed us to really examine the
requirements and associated work load and we came up with a hard schedule that ended up
being very close and did not require any slips.
When we split the tasks out to groups, I became the Lead Engineer of the Controls team. This
team developed tools that defined minimum switch and control areas that needed to be
employed to meet NASA human spaceflight standards. Each task was examined to determine
the necessary controls throughout all phases of flight; ascent, space flight, docking, reentry
and landing. That controls list was fed into an in-house developed area calculator that
automatically told the team where our switch real estate was in relation to total.
This task worked hand in hand with instrumentation because the glass cockpit displays chosen
continue to absorb functions that used to be performed by separate individual hand controls.
On top of the virtual selection of controls necessary for flight a physical mockup was made to
allow for modification to the physical cockpit design and to serve as a human factors evaluation
tool. Will allow for evaluation of ergonomics and placement. This physical mockup was employed
to determine reach zones for the 95th percentile extremes for astronaut wingspan.
We pinned shoulders down with harnesses and shortened the reaches for critical items in the
ascent phase due to the geometry of the force vector and the anticipated ~3G acceleration.
Many people evaluated the model and refinements were made. The evaluation process
continued with two astronauts evaluations of the mockup weighted more heavily than pilots
and lay persons. We used this data to modify the original design and populate controls and
instrumentation. This was all used to create a final solidworks model of our design.
The test article (below) was also being load tested at CU during our project. We got to observe some of the testing.
The benefits of each method employed are that the tools developed are easily modified as the
complete system design matures and changes, those changes can be easily implemented. The
final task we undertook was to leave a roadmap for subsequent semesters. Since our semester
wrapped, a new mockup has been created that allows for near total and rapid adjustability of a
full cockpit mockup placed within an actual inner mold lining of the vehicle. The advancements
in the project indicate that some of our designs will make it into the test article and hopefully the
(Note all uncaptioned images credit: Brendan Roberts)
Alshain: Lunar Ascent Vehicle
This graduate project at CU is an effort to create the next generation lunar ascent vehicle. This vehicle
would be similar to the Lunar Module of the Apollo missions, but would employ weight savings measures
and improved ingress/egress.
One of the simple yet groundbreaking ideas employed was to split the module into a launch
vehicle and a habitation module. Only the essentials to get back to lunar orbit would be put
into the launch section, saving fuel weight which propagates down the entire mass budget
to the initial launch weight on earth.
I worked as a structural integration engineer and assistant project manager for one semester
on this project that spanned multiple semesters. Our iteration worked to implement full I/O
throughout the vehicle for every item. Each box is a researched chosen design that has a
mature TRL and is ready for space flight. The dimensions are representative of current version
specs. Starting with a populated vehicle, our task was essentially systems engineering, to
go through the integration of all the systems and their interfaces, determine conflicts and
resolve issues through redesign. This began at the top level, examining the broad subsystem
requirements and evaluating interfaces at high levels and working down.
Here you can see our interconnection diagram at the subsystem level, with the thermal
subsystem revealed to show the component level. The project focus was in the process of
shifting to less mature projects and this semester focused on developing mature project
management guidelines and formats. Technical work was performed in technology selection
and full input, output definition, and representing/installing mockup input/output connections.
SUAV: Solar Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - This project was a senior year design project with
review milestones that spanned a full school year. The focus of the instruction was on
systems engineering, team work and presentation of review milestones. We formed a team
of 10 engineers and chose team member roles towards the end of junior year. The project
scope was initially an endurance aircraft based on solar power generation. The scope of the
project changed when project champions and investors saw this as a potential test bed for a
variety of technologies. Scope creep in the initial definition phase was an issue that we had to
work to corral. We settled on a lithium polymer strain test platform along with an aircraft
payload solar cell strain measurement system. Both these subsystems were integrated into a
manual or autonomous controlled aircraft with very high L/D and extended endurance from
solar charging. The endurance started as a design-to goal but became a secondary goal with
the scientific payload inclusion.
The above is one of the first flight tests with solar cells integrated and I, for scale. This test
did not include the strain data collection that I built with custom printed 2-sided circuit board.
The circuit board was designed in Altium, printed on a copper board, acid etched, drilled
out, and components soldered on.
All this work was done by hand and tested from breadboard to full component build and
integration. I also employed an SD-card data recorded that was built by a CU graduate
student. The full connection system is seen below.
The carbon fiber component houses the lithium polymer battery. The majority of the
aircraft was made of fiberglass, but future crafts would most likely integrate the thin
film batteries into composite structural components so we needed strain information
on a composite enclosure. The model and layup of the carbon material was performed
by the team in the CU aerospace composite lab. The strain system passed bench
testing and was integrated into the aircraft. Due to autonomous failures and schedule
slip a final full up integrated flight test was not performed before our final semester
review. We did complete a full aircraft integrated ground test, with a wiffel load on the
wings and a progressive loading of the composite shell. While aerodynamic loads were
not experienced or the minor vibration levels expected, the lab testing did show very
little shear forces. The shear and deflection were important to the thin film design and
we were able to validate the integration and support further testing.
My first engineering project. I was a programmer on the C&DH team and
assisted with electrical design and some component selection and placement.
I designed the patch art seen at the site. This project was a payload on the
first commercial launch out of the New Mexico space port. The project was
designed to evolve into a kit payload.
Chu Research Group: July 2009 - Present
Graduate Research Assistant – Remote Sensing
Fe Boltzmann Lidar, Antarctica
Trained to run and maintain a complete lidar system while field deployed solo at McMurdo station, Antarctica.
A full year deployment inclusive of winter with no flights out and no possible backup or parts.
Completed a record 48 hour continuous data collection session. A paper on the data collected is
planned but not yet completed. See 'Ice Time' in the nav bar and the picture gallery for photos.
STAR LiDAR Development
Development of a complete transmitter, receiver, and data collection systems for an educational
LiDAR system for the University.
Measurement of wind and temperature in the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (MLT) Region
via a 589nm – three frequency laser. Calibrated and set-up complete transmitter to receiver
chains, Doppler free spectroscopy. Collected field data on multiple campaigns.
Na-DEMOF Filter Design, Construction and Research
The Na-DEMOF or Sodium(Na) Double Edge Magneto Optic Filter project developed from the
ground up, built and deployed an optical filter for 589nm sodium resonant light.
This project was part of an effort to obtain whole atmosphere LiDAR measurements. This filter
allowed for daytime measurements of return signals in the lower atmosphere during the day.
I designed, machined, tested, and deployed double-edged magneto-optic filter. Dr. Wentao
Huang developed the theory and first iteration of a Na-DEMOF, which is not shown and a
different implementation. This model has unique features, such as flexible Mylar heaters
on a high temp silicone substrate.
Teaching Assistant - ASEN 3300 'Aerospace Electronics', Spring 2010
This Junior level course focused on circuit theory, circuit building, antenna design and electronics
measurement instrumentation proficiency. I was involved in problem solving and teaching during
lab periods. Reviewing and checking instructor developed material. Ran review sessions for exams.
Held office hours to teach students. Proctored exams.