QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP) Project is gearing up for the second batch of students for the nanosatellite engineering track under the Master of Science (MS) and Master of Engineering (MEng) in Electrical Engineering (EE).
The current batch of STeP-UP scholars presenting results of the thermal and vibration simulations
(Photo courtesy of Christy Raterta)
The nanosatellite engineering subjects in the MS EE and MEng EE programs are being offered by the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute in the College of Engineering of UP Diliman (UPD-EEEI) through the initiative and support of the Department Of Science and Technology (DOST)-funded research program, “Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement” (STAMINA4Space), and the STeP-UP Project, which is one of its components.
A step closer to space through scholarships
The STeP-UP Project aims to proliferate the knowledge gained from the Development of Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite (PHL-Microsat) Program to local universities through the design and teaching of hands-on courses or subjects on small satellites and inter-university collaboration. Through the support of the DOST-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), the STeP-UP Project offers scholarships for masters students who are interested in applying to the MS EE or ME EE programs in UP Diliman to study nanosatellite technology, specifically the mission design, implementation, launch, and operation of 1U CubeSats.
All these programs and their corresponding projects were made possible through the full support of DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña. In 2016, his first presentation to President Rodrigo Duterte and then Cabinet members included DOST’s Space Technology Development Program (2017 to 2026) to have a corresponding funding requirement of 10 billion Pesos over 10 years.
The first batch started in January 2019, consisting of eight individuals from different backgrounds and sectors, ranging from industry, academe, to the armed forces, in line with the project’s principle of valuing diversity and working with people from multiple disciplines. These scholars are pioneering the local cube satellite development and are dubbed as “UP’s next satellite builders.”
Major activities in the nanosatellite engineering track include the development of 1U CubeSats, space environment testing of the CubeSats (engineering model and flight model) at the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Japan, launch of the CubeSats via the International Space Station (ISS), and CubeSat operations. The list of the courses under the program is available here.
Bringing it back home
The local development of the 1U CubeSats in UPD-EEEI is being undertaken in partnership with the Laboratory for Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering (La SEINE) of Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) and the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project (BIRDS) Project. BIRDS is a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite initiative of Kyutech that trains students from non-space faring nations on the hands-on design, development and operation of 1U CubeSats. The Philippines participated in BIRDS-2 (2016-2018), which launched Maya-1, and in the ongoing BIRDS-4 (2018-2020). In BIRDS-2 and BIRDS-4, a Filipino scholar was selected to be the project manager (PM) to oversee the team of international students undertaking the design and development of the CubeSats. “Being tasked as a PM for a satellite project is a major responsibility and is a reflection of the hard work and competence of our Filipino scholars”, says Dr. Joel S. Marciano, Jr. STAMINA4Space Program Leader and Acting Director of the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), also a Professor in the UPD-EEEI.
Recently, the BIRDS-3 CubeSats from Japan, Nepal and Sri Lanka were successfully deployed into orbit. “The STEP-UP project builds upon the technical experience gained from BIRDS-2, as well as updates from the BIRDS-3 iteration, to build and operate a 1U CubeSat
in the local academic setting and to proliferate the know-how to other Philippine institutions”, according to Engr. Paul Jason Co, Assistant Professor in UPD-EEEI and Project Leader of STEP-UP. A team of eight (8) scholars in the MS/ME EE program in UPD-EEEI, supported by STEP-UP scholarships from the DOST-SEI, are now building two (2) CubeSats that are targeted for launch in 2020. This will be followed by another batch of eight (8) scholars who will further develop two (2) more CubeSats and launch them into orbit by 2022. The scholars receive guidance and mentoring from faculty members of the College of Engineering and College of Science in UPD, technical personnel from the STAMINA4Space program and researchers from the DOST-ASTI. Applications for the second batch of eight (8) STEP-UP scholars will open in November 2019 with classes starting on August 2020.
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