Internship Experience: Fixing the Pilot Shortage at the Highest Level

By James Ritchey
Correspondent

This past summer, I had the opportunity to live and work in Washington, D.C. through an internship program offered by Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings.

I, along with a few other Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (AFROTC) cadets from around the nation, had the opportunity to work at and immerse myself in the Pentagon, working with a variety of different departments within Headquarters Air Force.

Despite being a Global Security and Intelligence Studies major, with interests in foreign and operational policy, I was placed in the Aircrew Crisis Task Force (ACTF), a special organization created to tackle one of the largest hurdles facing the current Department of Defense: the shortage of pilots and other aircrew members, especially at higher levels.

The ACTF is a special “matrixed” organization under the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (HAF/A3). Because of the complexity (and hopefully temporary status) of the problem, officers from around the Pentagon worked together to develop an actionable, lasting plan to ensure the Air Force maintains proper personnel levels for the coming decades.

I worked with officers from A5/8, the department for Strategic Plans and Requirements, A1, the department for Personnel, A3T, the department for training and readiness, and many others from a variety of backgrounds and skills. My office was headed by a one-star general, and consisted mostly of officers who had been in the Air Force for over 15 years. As a cadet who has not even been in the active Air Force yet, it was somewhat daunting to be around such high-level officers on a daily basis. However, I was welcomed with open arms, and quickly assigned tasks to complete.

While I at first did not have much interest in the subject or any skill in operational research, I was quickly on-boarded and put to work in developing budget proposals, contract requirements, and idea solicitation. On many occasions, I was able to participate in meetings regarding potential future programs for developing pilots, many of which would involve AFROTC detachments and aviation schools such as Riddle and the University of North Dakota. Despite my lack of experience in the operational Air Force, I was productive within the ACTF and actively helped develop solutions for the near and distant future.  

Along with working on solutions for the aircrew crisis, I also had the opportunity to branch out into some other areas of the Department of Defense. I had the opportunity to go to the State Department and sit in on negotiations for foreign weapon sales of American aircraft, as well as take flights in F-16D and KC-135 aircraft at nearby Joint Base Andrews. The USAF’s Light Attack (OA-X) experiment was a critical matter as well, and I had the opportunity to work on budgeting and congressional proposals for the acquisition and stand-up of its potential future fighter squadrons and Formal Training Units.  

The Pentagon itself is a massive building, featuring a multitude of shops, food courts, and people incredibly important to national security. I had the opportunity to meet several of these people, including USAF Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Lieutenant General Mark Nowland. It is rare to see anyone below the rank of Major (O-4) in the building at all, and even rarer to see anyone below Captain (O-3). As a cadet in that world, the experience and connections I made were unparalleled. 

AFROTC/ROTC Diversions Featured Features News

Music Review

By Peter Partoza
Correspondent

Another week, another slew of new music coming out from artists across the spectrum. Logic is back with a brand new single, and he’s not holding anything back. “The Return” features the same aggressive unopposed lyric style he’s built his career on, and yes, he’s still got it.

Dropping names on big brands like Nike and Audi he takes a no-holds-barred approach, calling out the music business for how it still seems to deny him his place in the franchise and instead lumps him in with the mumble rap crowd.

A fast flow and a driving beat paired with powerful (and explicit) lyrics ensures he plants another flag in the rap genre, calling out other artists to push against the current rap trends and bring more types of his style of lyrically based music. Logic recently announced a new album coming soon, “Young Sinatra 4,” set to release Sept. 28, so keep an eye out.

Sliding over to the rock scene, Bring Me The Horizon’s new song “MANTRA” brings back the group after a two year hiatus.

Filled with resonating electric guitar, plenty of cymbal crashes, and the same pseudo-electric style they’ve shown off in the past, “MANTRA” brings a new story to the group, starting the song off with “Do you want to start a cult with me?”

The remainder of the song continues with lyrics speaking to those who feel like they are drifting through life with no purpose, stuck in a rut, and those who are “chanting that same old MANTRA.” No word as of yet on when the next album from them will drop, but with the release of this new song and its music video, you can expect more in the coming months.

Moving away from the more mainstream artists, a new face is making his way onto the scene. Alec Benjamin is an up and comer and his new song “Death of a Hero” features an acoustic and ambient tone with melodic lyrics.

The song laments the “death of a hero,” i.e. the moment you move out of childhood wonder and begin to see the world and people as they truly are without the veil of perfection attributed to icons. This is a good song for those rainy days or times where everything just feels too real. Benjamin is a Phoenix native and has released multiple other singles, and can be found on major music streaming and downloading websites.

There is no word yet on whether we can expect an album or not from the new kid on the scene, though, so fans will have to wait with bated breath.

Audio Featured Features Reviews

T2 Residents Displaced

By Vee Glessner
Copy Editor

The buzz around campus is that the new residence hall, T2, is only half-occupied despite the promise of a new fully-inhabited building for incoming and returning students by the start of the fall semester.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen delays in the construction process, this goal could not be met.

During the summer, the construction crew notified administration that delays would prohibit the building from opening on time.

“It was a tight turnaround with an estimated completion date of Aug.14, and Aug.19 was move-in, so we knew it was super tight,” said Jason Langston, Director of Housing and Residence Life.

“At that time, ERAU directed the construction company to focus on getting the ‘B’ side finalized as soon as possible so students could move in to that half on time.

They agreed and were able to open that half of the building before the freshman class arrived,” says Orientation Leader Lucas Widner.

When Housing found out the building couldn’t be fully opened by the Aug.19 move-in date, they took rooms from side A out of the room selection options to mitigate the inconvenience and achieved a temporary certificate of occupancy for the ‘B’ side.

“We called all of the students to explain what was going on and receive questions. We sent emails, letters, and really tried to over-communicate,” said Langston.

The students that will be housed in the “A” side of the building are temporarily living in Mingus Mountain Halls 3 through 5.

Displaced students are sleeping in the lounge rooms of those Mingus suites, accommodated by temporary privacy doors and the beds that will eventually occupy their rooms in T2.

“Once it was confirmed it was going to be late, we went ahead and converted the lounges in Halls 3 through 5.

The math worked well: students from the ‘A’ side were able to move into 3 through 5 almost exactly, and we were able to keep roommates together,” said Langston.

The freshmen still got to experience the first few weeks adjusting to a new roommate and are housed with other freshmen, which made this the ideal solution.

This unique group of freshmen get to be part of two communities, Mingus and T2, and have the opportunity to make additional friends with the suites they are currently living in.

The construction is projected to be complete in early- to mid-September, with students moving in over the next few weeks.

Housing needs to secure a certificate of occupancy before anyone can move into the new construction and will notify T2A occupants as soon as it is received.

Although some parents were unhappy they couldn’t see their student’s final room before they left campus, displaced students and the residents of suites now housing them are reacting fairly positively, in part due to the way that Housing has handled the situation.

“Everyone has been generally understanding and appreciative that Housing has communicated with them so often and done as much as they could to make the most out of this situation,” says Widner.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that both parties are being financially compensated for the inconvenience.

When the construction is complete, there will be a transition period where the displaced furniture is moved out of Mingus and into T2.

This process will be executed in waves: about one-third of the T2A furniture is in storage, and the rest is in Mingus with the displaced students.

”We have to move the furniture in, move a third of the people over, then move their furniture,” said Langston.

Then, the Mingus lounges will be re-furnished with the standard accommodations, which Facilities has stored in the meantime.

“I have heard more grumblings from them [Mingus occupants], and I understand that they are not getting the lounge that they expected. We have done lots to mitigate that, including extra money on the dining cards for snacks,” Langston says.

There has also been a microwave placed in the Hall 5 lounge for use by these students.

Though T2 will be occupied in a few weeks, the outside of the building will need a little more time.

The metal paneling meant to be used on the outside was damaged in transit, so more has to be special-ordered.

“There will be some delays on the outside of the building, but nothing that impacts the livability,” Langston reassures us.

The roof is finished and weather-ready; the missing panels are primarily for aesthetic purposes.

Overall, displaced students have had primarily understanding and positive reactions.

For the most part, they’re just excited to move into their new building as soon as it’s finished.

Thanks to communication from Housing and agile accommodations by Facilities, the impact of the construction delay has been minimized.

Featured Features

Sports Update

By James Ritchey
Correspondent

Volleyball (6-1) 

24 Aug (Home) 

ERAU 3 – 1 Hope International 

ERAU hosted and played in its own Volleyball tournament, playing Hope International in the first two of its three games. In both matches, the Eagles came out on top with the same final score. The two teams played very evenly in the first set, but the Eagles stayed ahead by a few points for most of the set. HIU surged ahead late in the game, tying the score at 17 and pushing forward to take a 23-25 win. The second set played out similarly, however this time, it was HIU who led for most of the set. The Eagles stayed within two points of the Royals for nearly the entire game, even leading briefly 14-13 before again falling slightly behind. An HIU attack error tied the game at 18-18, and ERAU took that advantage and ran with it, taking the lead on a kill by Erin Clark. HIU stayed within striking distance until two attack errors gave the Eagles a 23-20 lead. Errors on both sides gave the Eagles a 25-23 win to tie the match.  

The momentum from the second set gave ERAU confidence in the third set. After holding a small 10-9 lead, the Eagles scored seven straight points to give them a nearly insurmountable lead; they took a 2-1 match lead with 25-16 set win. In the fourth set, the Eagles started strong, pushing ahead to a 13-6 lead early in the set. However, the Royals then fought back, taking a 18-19 lead to give the Eagles a scare. ERAU then responded with six straight points from causing five HIU errors and a kill from Erin Clark. A final kill from Caylee Robalin finished the match with a 25-20 win.  

After a short break, both teams returned to the court for an immediate rematch. The Eagles returned dominant, capitalizing on several HIU errors to take a 20-8 lead. A few more kills and ERAU found themselves up 1-0 in the match from a 25-12 win. In the second set, the Royals were able to find their bearing again and put up a fight. HIU went up 7-15 over ERAU, and the Eagles were unable to recover. HIU tied the match with a 17-25 win. The third set saw the Eagles back in their groove, going ahead 10-3 to begin. ERAU kept the pressure on HIU, and maintained a consistent lead, finally taking the third set 25-20. In a tumultuous fourth set, the Eagles found themselves down 2-11, their largest deficit of the day. However, in the coming plays, the Eagles maintained a good defensive effort and cut down that deficit. A series of aces, blocks, and kills brought the Eagles back into the game, tying at 15-15. A hard fought battle on both sides ensued, and the Royals and Eagles found themselves tied at 24-24. Kills from Erin Clark and Caylee Robalin sealed the victory for the Eagles, and pushed them into the second day of the tournament.  

25 Aug (Home) 

ERAU 3 – 0 Arizona Christian 

In the last game of their home tournament, the Eagles comfortably swept the ACU Firestorm. In the first set, ERAU took an early lead and maintained a superior level of play, taking the set 25-16. In the second set, the Eagles expanded a 11-7 lead by scoring six straight points to stifle any attempt of an ACU comeback. A kill by Erin Clark and a series of service errors by the Firestorm gave the Eagles a 25-17 set win. Without succumbing to overconfidence, the Eagles ensured a match win with a solid performance in the third set. Scoring four straight points early in the set to take a 5-2 lead, ERAU was clearly superior as the set progressed. Late in the game, the Eagles scored seven straight points to take a 23-9 lead. An ACU service error and a kill from Caylee Robalin sealed the victory with a 25-12 set win. Erin Clark led the Eagles with 13 kills and 14 points, while Caylee Robalin earned 11 kills and 11.5 points.  

Women’s Soccer (1-1) 

20 Aug (Home) 

ERAU 4 – 1 Midland 

Women’s Soccer kicked off their season facing highly-ranked opponent Midland University. The Eagles, ranked 14th in the nation, looked to build off their highly successful 2017 season against Midland, who had received votes in the latest NAIA Top 25 poll. The Warriors were the first to strike, scoring an unassisted goal in the 25th minute. However, Breanna Larkin tied the match 1-1 late in the first half off an assist from Sierra Vicente, capitalizing on one of ERAU’s many offensive pushes. With under three minutes left in the first half, the Eagles received a penalty opportunity to potentially take the lead, but were unable to convert, and the halftime score remained 1-1. The Eagles had 14 shots in the first half, compared to the Warriors’ six. That offensive momentum paid off in the second half, as Maggie McElrath scored early in the half from an assist from Riley Martinson. Later, Riley Martinson ensured an ERAU victory by scoring two goals in less than two minutes; Ashley Askevold assisted both. The Eagles finished the game with 26 shots, while Midland had only nine. Midland also garnered 13 fouls, including two yellow cards.  

24 Aug (Home) 

ERAU 0 – 1 Eastern Oregon 

Eastern Oregon, ranked 25th nationally, barely escaped with a win over ERAU in their second game of the season. Both teams put forth several offensive drives in the first half but none resulted in a goal. ERAU goalkeeper Caitlyn Aaron had three saves in the first half. Early in the second half, EOU managed to break the stalemate and score. However, this only inspired ERAU to work harder and put forth even more shots and offensive pushes. Unfortunately, by the time the 90 minutes were up, the Eagles never found the back of the net. ERAU had 18 shots overall to EOU’s 10.  

Men’s Soccer (0-1) 

17 Aug (Home) 

ERAU 2 – 4 Ottawa University  

The ERAU Men’s Soccer team opened their season against in-state rivals Ottawa University. The Eagles began the match well, as Simon Jensen gave them a 1-0 lead within the first three minutes off an assist from David Bates. The Spirit responded in kind, but ERAU goaltender David Hutto was able to make two saves to stall the OU counterattack. However, they were still able to tie the match with a goal at 29:46. About 10 minutes later, Mason Laaksonen returned the lead to the Eagles with a goal off an assist from Sergio Montero. The Eagles went into halftime leading 2-1, and returned eager to maintain their lead. A defensive struggle ensued as the second half kicked off, with both sides struggling to put together a solid offensive effort. About 21 minutes into the half, OU managed to tie the game on an unassisted goal. About two minutes later, they found the back of the net again and took the lead. The Eagles attempted to lock down their defense, playing a much more physical game, resulting in ERAU committing several fouls. With just 20 seconds left in the match, the Spirit scored yet again to cap off their victory. Both teams ended the match with similar statistics, each having 14 shots, eight shots on goal, and five corner kicks.  

Featured Features Sports

Vacation Review: Sunny San Diego, California

By Reece Cabanas
Chief Distribution Officer

Let’s face it: even us college students need to unwind occasionally, and what better way to do so than with a nice getaway vacation?

If you’ve never been out to California before or are tired of places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Diego should be on your list.

It’s hard to narrow down a list of things to do in my own home city, but this past summer I decided to explore what really makes this area appealing to the average visitor.

Included are things to do not only in downtown but the greater San Diego area as well.

To begin, the beaches. In the summer, the San Diego coast is a huge must. Aside from being packed with locals and visitors, this is where the term “sunny San Diego” really shines through.

You’ll find people swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, bodyboarding, scuba diving, kayaking, jet skiing and more along the shoreline. 

There are numerous spots in particular you can look up, though my personal favorite is La Jolla Shores.

Depending where you go, in-ground bonfire pits are also available for those who want some warmth next to the water.

Next, Mission Bay: perhaps the biggest water recreation area aside from San Diego Bay. 

You can rent jet skis, boats, kayaks, paddle boards, and even take a ferry ride across.

And of course, San Diego Bay: for starters, the USS Midway museum is a must for military enthusiasts as you can walk through the decommissioned aircraft carrier’s interior and on top of the flight deck.

The museum pays homage to the carrier’s history, San Diego’s naval background, and those who have and continue to serve. 

Boat rentals are also available for sightseeing, special day cruises, parties, and off-shore fishing trips. Occasionally, large cruise liners will even pull into port.

Next, Belmont Park. Think of the famous Santa Monica Pier, but less crowded and there’s no pier.

Located next to the ocean and Mission Bay, this small amusement park is perfect for some good vibes and good times with friends or loved ones. 

Not sure what to do? There’s an arcade, mini golf, laser tag, rock climbing, rides, and carnival food.

And if you get tired of all that, you can go for a swim or ride a bike along the boardwalk.

Next, Balboa Park. It is perhaps one of the more exquisite works of architecture in the city, dating back to the year 1915 when the Panama-California Exposition was held here.

There is a giant fountain, an enormous outdoor organ pavilion, botanical garden, reflecting pool, and a replica old globe theater among other notable sites. 

Fun fact: the Embry-Riddle Golden Eagles Flight Team was inducted into the San Diego International Air and Space Museum’s Hall of Fame just last November.

The museum is one of 18 located throughout the park, with free admission on certain days of the month.

Next, the San Diego Zoo! It houses a variety of animals and is located right next to Balboa Park. It is one of the largest in the nation, housing both local and exotic creatures. 

For those old enough to legally consume alcohol, San Diego’s Gaslamp District is filled with local microbreweries and nightclubs.

Conveniently located next to Petco Park (where the Padres play), the Horton Plaza mall, convention center, and a ton of music venues within walking distance, the famous gas lamps represent the heart of the city and its nightlife.

These places are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring San Diego.

Even for someone like me who’s lived there my entire life, I’ll always find something new to do or see.

Being a decent 8-hour drive from Prescott, Arizona, this city is well worth a trip or two.

Featured Features

Capstone: Team Impulse  

By Madison Padilla
Chief Copy Editor 

Team Members: Eric Trevenna, Matthew Andrews, Sarrah Bramblett, Michael Calivas, Parker Duncan, Shaban Gakere, Tyler Green 

Team Impulse is one of the three ME-Propulsion teams for this year. Lead by Eric Trevenna, the team has been working on building a cold gas thruster that produces about five to ten pounds-force worth of thrust. The project concept itself was developed by Dr. Brenda Haven and recommended to the team at the start of Preliminary Design.  

When asked what the biggest difficulty the group has faced, Trevenna remarked that, “It was getting our design pressure at the nozzle entrance. Our regulator is not able to get a high enough pressure through the system to our nozzle.” Despite this though, the team was able to design and fabricate their system.  

With the build portion of their project complete, the group just needs to go through their testing phase now. With the testing phase, the team hopes to confirm that their theoretical calculations matches up with their experimentation results. By doing this, the design would be considered a success. As the semester wraps up, Trevenna remarked that, “The most exciting part of this project has been testing our system and watching it work.”  

Team Impulse would like to thank the staff and faulty who helped them design and build their cold gas thruster, including Dr. Murat Okcay, Dr. Michael Fabian, Dr. Matt Haslam, and Dr. Elliott Bryner.  

Featured Features

Team Eagle Eye designing a new eye in the sky 

By Russ Chapman
Correspondent 

Team Members: Chase Bilyou, Scott Bragg, Zach Graeber, Emily Parker, Saravanan R, Megan Riley, David Sanders, Joshua Warshaw, Kyle West 

Team Eagle Eye is an aero preliminary design team working on designing a complex surveillance drone. The premise of the project was presented by Dr. Zwick to the team at the beginning of the semester and assigned to them.  

The project had a very specific mission in mind. Team lead, Megan Riley, described the mission parameters. The team is designing a long range drone to survey a gas pipeline that runs from Tucson, Ariz., to El Paso Texas.  

The purpose of the drone is to be a compact modular design that can be transported in the bed of a pickup truck to the launch location. The aircraft is then to be assembled and launched and should be able to survey the entire pipeline on one flight to look for security risks. If accomplished the drone design would be safer, and more cost efficient than the company’s current method of surveying the pipeline. 

The team’s greatest challenge this semester has been coordinating times to meet with all the members. Managing the schedules of nine senior engineering students made it very hard to find times when the entire team would be available to meet. 

However, the team did find its stride and has accomplished much this semester. Team Lead Megan Riley commented on their progress, “We have completed the preliminary design phase which involves creating the complete design for the aircraft. All sizing for wings, fuselage, tail, etc has been completed, and all payload components have been selected.” 

Next order of business for the team is to assemble a testing model to be analyzed in a wind tunnel as well as for structural integrity. Once the analysis has been completed and the design finalized the team will build a half-scale model to be flown next December. Riley mentioned being excited for the team moving forward. She looks forward to the manufacturing phase of the project. The success of manufacturing will be a good demonstration of the quality of the preliminary design.  

The team would like to thank Professor Zwick and Dr. Haslam for their continued guidance in the project. They would also like to thank Dr. Morris, Dr. Helbling, Dr. Traub, and Dr. Bordignon for their expertise and assistance in overcoming obstacles the team encountered.

Featured Features

Capstone: Industry Engineering Designs with PEAC 

By Russ Chapman
Correspondent 

Team Members: Nicholas Nuyn, Sean Gaffney, Kevin Prasad, Lukas Everhart, Robert Graham, Isaiah Martinez, Justin Nguyen, Benjamin Stolte, Jason Evans, Lauren Barthenheier, Colton Campbell, Alexander Nuyn, Jared Rosenkrance, Ryan Poppert 

The largest detail design team this semester is Prescott Experimental Aircraft Concepts (PEAC).The team was originally two individual preliminary design teams working in competition to design an innovative vertical take off unmanned aerial vehicle (VTOL UAV). The two teams had consultant specialists from the Bell Engineering Innovation project that supported the project. At the end of the prelim phase the two projects were downselected to one and the teams merged for the detail fabrication and testing. 

The project was proposed by Dr. Crisler and Kirk Groninga, the project manager for the Bell Engineering Innovation Project. The idea of the project was to have Bell, a division of the Textron conglomerate, sponsor a detail design team in their design of a new proprietary system that would go on to be patented. It gave the students experience with a simulated industry scenario. 

At this point in the process the team has completed two wind tunnel models and their testing. A one-third scale flight test model has also been designed, fully assembled and fabricated. Testing of this flight model is currently in process. Further flight testing on the model and the resulting data analysis remain to be completed by the team, as well as the final report submission.  

When asked what about the project most excited the team, team lead Nicholas Nuyn said, “The team is excited to have a working flight demonstrator and have high probability to be allowed to present publicly in the capstone symposium.” This is exciting for the team as one of the biggest challenges they faced in the process was dealing with the dissemination of information under the non-disclosure agreement the team signed in order to participate in the project.  

The team would like to thank Dr. Criser and Mr. Groninga for making their project a possibility. They would also like to thank other professors and machine shop staff who helped them along the way, namely Professor Mangum, Jim Weber, Patrick David, and Jeff Hiatt. They also extend their thanks to the employees of Bell who aided them in the project as well, namely Mr. Scott Drennan, Mr. Brett Zimmerman, and Mr. Al Brand.  

Featured Features

GSIS Senior Capstone Class 

By Marquette Davis
Correspondent  

For the GSIS Capstone, the entire class is participating in this project and is split up into six teams of four members each.  

The group is designing a Wargame in which they play out potential conflict scenarios on the Korean Peninsula. Our teams consist of North Korean, South Korean, Russian, Chinese, and US teams made up of students in the class. The managers of the wargame are the Administrative Team, or Umpires, who have led the class in the development and production of the game. Each of these teams will participate in playing out the scenarios of the wargame, meaning the students will be participating in and analyzing the current potential conflict development on the Korean Peninsula.  

Dr. Daniel gave the order, “Students will produce a high quality table-top exercise that games out at least one possible scenario for a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.” From there, he left the students to their own creativity from coming up with the scenarios to producing a playable tabletop board game with real-life global implications. 

When asked what was the most difficult part of the semester, students just remarked, “Mitch Major.” 

At this point, the class has completed the rulebook and the entire physical production of the game (with just some small corrections to make). They are now in the troubleshooting phase, in which the class plays through the game until they have made all the improvements they can –as Mitch Major, a member of the GSIS Capstone class says, “If you’re not doing it wrong the first time, you’re not doing it right.” It must be ready for playing by the April 20, after which the class will begin playing. Our class will be sharing our product with DOD professionals and several faculty members and hope to make it a permanent relic in the College of Security and Intelligence.  

They have several playtests yet to do before they finalize our product. Besides that, they just need to make it look good. Overall they are most excited about finishing it. They invite everyone to see their game in Building 17, where it will be proudly displayed from this semester on. 

The GSIS Capstone Class would like to extend a special thank you to the College of Security and Intelligence for granting us the resources to produce a kick-butt wargame they are proud to display and excited to play! 

Featured Features

Senior Capstone – Coeus Promethea Genna 

By Zoe Crain
Copy Editor 

Team members: Catherine Ayotte, Nina Rogerson, Patrick Bright, Raul Gonzalez, Lee Morris, Trupti Mahendrakar, Yashica Khatri, Noor Rashid, Matthew Klockner, Rachel Pope, and Seven Reinhart 

One of the four AE Astro senior capstone teams is called Coeus Promethea Genna (CPG) and their Project Manager is Catherine Ayotte. CPG is working in conjunction with an ME Robotics capstone team, Sparta Robotics. Ayotte’s team is in Spacecraft Detail Design (AE 445) with Dr. Julio Benavides. Their project name is Project Gemini. 

Project Gemini is designed to be an emulated satellite refueling mission. Essentially, the team is recreating an in-orbit satellite refueling mission in Earth in a 2D plane. Their chase vehicle (the vehicle that does the refueling) hovers and translates on a demonstration platform autonomously, while their target vehicle remains stationary. CPG is in charge of developing the chase and target vehicle, as well as developing a method of tracking them. Sparta Robotics has developed a robotic manipulator that is on board CPG’s chase vehicle that allows rendezvous and refueling between the vehicles. 

This lofty project was proposed to all AE Astro and ME Robotics students in the fall semester by Dr. Benavides and Dr. Iacopo Gentilini, with the intention of it being the first Astro-Robotics capstone collaboration. 

The greatest challenge CPG had to overcome this semester was back in January, when the team determined that multiple design decisions from the previous semester were not going to work. With only three weeks before they needed to begin purchasing and production of the physical structure, the team had to double down on their analysis of critical components (such as the chase vehicle frame structure) and make quick, educated decisions about how to improve their design: without jeopardizing other aspects of the project. 

CPG is currently in the final phase of their project. The team must complete the remaining 60% of scheduled tests. Once tests are completed, the team will finalize their test reports. 

According to Ayotte, the most exciting part of the project is definitely “seeing all the systems come to life and start functioning. It’s easy to see a design in CATIA for months, but when the vehicle is in front of you with lights blinking and signals being sent, it’s a completely different feeling.” 

Ayotte continues, “Prelim and Detail have been unlike any other experience at Riddle. No project in any other class can prepare you for the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a major engineering endeavor: nor will you be prepared to realize everything that could have gone wrong has.” 

CPG would like to thank Dr. Gentilini and Dr. Benavides for everything they have helped CPG tackle along the way, in addition to Sparta Robotics for being the other half of Project Gemini. 

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