VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Representatives of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) and Operationally Responsive Space from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, attended a satellite design conference hosted by California Polytechnic University, June 2.
These Department of Defense space experts served alongside members of the commercial space industry in evaluating the senior aerospace engineering students’ capstone satellite design project.
Responding to a notional satellite design solicitation from a fictional customer, the Cal Poly students were tasked with designing a communications and earth-imaging satellite within certain design specifications and time constraints.
“The design course is the culminating experience for our students,” said Dr. Jordi Puig-Suari, aerospace engineering professor at Cal Poly. “We try to assemble an outstanding group of space industry experts from diverse backgrounds to evaluate their performance. In addition, we expect the industry experts to help guide our efforts to provide the students with the best preparation to enter the workplace.”
“This year,” Puig-Suari continued, “we were lucky to have a number of experts from Vandenberg Air Force Base join the review panel. DoD is one of the main drivers of the space industry and it is great to have that perspective represented in the review panel. This year’s VAFB reviewers did an excellent job giving the students a taste of what they will encounter in the ‘real world’ while making sure the event was a great learning experience to help us complete their education. Many of the students will be entering careers directly supporting DoD space and it is important for us to make sure they are ready to do their best in support of service members.”
“We were absolutely thrilled to be invited to participate in Cal Poly’s Senior Aerospace Engineering Design event,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Calabrese, deputy director of plans, requirements and assessments, 14 AF. “It was exciting to see how new engineers supporting a disaster relief scenario tackled one of the DoD’s most challenging problems—‘launch on demand vs launch on schedule.’ This team put together a great concept for a rapid, focused Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and communications constellation supporting Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief, with some novel concepts regarding launch.”
The partnership between the DoD space organizations at VAFB and Cal Poly has been maturing over the past several years. It is due to take a big leap forward this summer as both sides explore the possibilities of a formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.
“As the J 5/8, I'm trying to design strategies to integrate commercial, civil and allied space capability into our current DoD space operations to ensure we can maintain the asymmetric advantages of space in any future conflict against any adversary,” said Col. Michael Angle, director of plans and requirements, JFCC Space. “Another key resource we need to harness is academia. Schools like Cal Poly have some of the brightest minds in the country and their students and faculty are working some of the same problem sets the military sees. That’s why an event like this capstone project where both sides can have exposure to the other’s way of thinking and pursue a meaningful dialog are invaluable; these future engineers, many of whom may be working on a DoD contract someday soon, represent the future of space.”