Studying space systems engineering with STK at Utah State University

Students in Dr. Charles Swenson’s Space Systems Engineering class at Utah State University finished the 2012 Fall Semester with the opportunity to take the STK Certification exam for extra credit. Six students passed and joined the ranks of STK Certified Rocket Scientists! Three of these “Rocket Scientists” are now creating scenarios for a space weather constellation mission and using STK to complete trade studies of a specific mission for their Space Systems Design class. Utah State University has been an Educational Alliance Program partner since 1999 and Dr. Swenson is an avid supporter of using Systems Tool Kit (STK) in the classroom: “A primary goal is to develop a working knowledge of orbital mechanics and introduce them to orbital simulation software. We also teach students about coordinate systems used in space systems engineering and mission design concepts. STK is an essential part of achieving these educational goals. Students gain a basic ability to use STK within the class and design and simulate various low-Earth and Sun and Earth synchronous orbits to achieve specific mission goals. Throughout the course we teach the students to develop tools for conceptual spacecraft design using spreadsheets. They use these tools to size telemetry, power, propulsion and data systems. Students learn how to use STK to get lighting and contact information for hypothetical orbits and to use this information to drive spacecraft subsystem designs,” he said. Introducing and using industry software is a great way to have students demonstrate the concepts they are studying. Becoming STK Certified gives students an edge when looking for jobs, as they discovered from the favorable reactions of employers at the Utah State University Career Fair. “This has been a very good year for students studying space systems engineering at Utah State University and AGI has gone out of their way to help students at USU become certified. Thank you, AGI,” Swenson said.

Systems Tool Kit (STK)

Modeling and simulation software for digital mission engineering and systems analysis.