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Engineering Methodology for Student-Driven CubeSats

Department of Computer Science, North Dakota State University, 1320 Albrecht Blvd., Room 258, Fargo, ND 58102, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Aerospace 2019, 6(5), 54;
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 25 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 13 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Verification Approaches for Nano- and Micro-Satellites)
PDF [3273 KB, uploaded 13 May 2019]


CubeSats are widely used by universities and research institutions all over the world. Their popularity is generally attributed to the use of low-cost components, free student labor and simple design. They have been shown to encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students to become involved in designing, implementing and testing a real functioning spacecraft system. Projects like this encourage students from different disciplines to team up to design and build CubeSats, providing interdisciplinary work experience. Participating students vary in their expertise in developing such systems. Some will work on the project for years while others are not willing to spend two or three consecutive semesters developing a CubeSat project. Despite their simplicity in design and low cost, CubeSats are considered great engineering systems for exploring space. Nevertheless, a large number of CubeSat projects fail due to having an unclear mission, ambiguous system requirements and a lack of documentation. Students need to have a clear vision of how to build a real CubeSat system that can be launched and that can function in space. Thus, this paper proposes engineering methodologies and tools to help students develop CubeSat systems. These tools can help students with planning, collecting, eliciting and documenting the requirements in a well-defined manner. This paper focuses on student-driven CubeSat projects designed by students and faculty members. Additionally, data is presented in this paper to identify the challenges and needs of CubeSat developers. Plans for future work are also discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: CubeSat; student satellite projects; system engineering; software engineering; COTS; STEM CubeSat; student satellite projects; system engineering; software engineering; COTS; STEM

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Alanazi, A.; Straub, J. Engineering Methodology for Student-Driven CubeSats. Aerospace 2019, 6, 54.

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