FSGC Space Academy Trains Next Generation Of Aerospace Engineers

Students from a number of universities send a weather balloon and its scientific payload aloft. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

CAPE CANVERAL – They came from universities from around the state of Florida all in hopes of honing their future trade. In this case the learning also happened to be a lot of fun. The team of college students that had gathered for “The Academy” this year capped off their week at Kennedy Space Center by launching a weather balloon from and its payload of scientific instruments.

The weather, a large factor in these experiments, was perfect. What pilots refer to as “severe clear” (totally clear, deep blue skies) along with the fact that there was absolutely zero wind made for a perfect day to launch.

The students were broken up into three separate groups, each with their own responsibilities and each overseen by a volunteer. The Academy is managed in a cooperative agreement by NASA, Space Florida and the Florida Space Grant Consortium.

“The Academy allows students to utilize what they are learning in the classroom in a real world setting using tools and equipment that they would typically see in the work place,” said the Florida Space Grant Consortium’s Director, Jaydeep Mukherjee. “We try to fuel the fires of these students by allowing them to come to a place renowned for its achievements in science and exploration.”

Some of the Universities represented in this year’s academy were the University of Central Florida, the University of Southern Florida, University of Miami, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, Santa Fe College, University of North Florida, and Florida International University. The weather balloon that they launched contained both a GPS tracker, which allowed the ground control station to monitor its whereabouts as well as a video camera and equipment to monitor atmospheric conditions that the balloon passed through.

Students monitor the progress of their weather balloon as it ascends. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

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