Mechatronics competes in CTE Mission: CubeSat

Projects at Butler Tech are often “out of this world” but none as galactic as CTE Mission: CubeSat.

CTE Mission: CubeSat is a national challenge by the U.S. Department of Education for high school students to design and build CubeSat prototypes. The challenge is a way to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond. Students in Butler Tech’s Mechatronics program accepted the challenge and recently submitted their mission proposal in hopes of being chosen as one of five finalists to receive prizes and an invitation to participate in Phase 2 of the mission, which involves the actual build and launch of their prototype.

Butler Tech’s CubeSat team, Austin Matala (Madison), Ayden Snedigar (Monroe), Vincent Ariss (Fairfield), Trevor Almanza (Fairfield), Wade Johnson (Monroe), and Lainey Brown (Monroe), submitted a mission proposal to develop, design, fabricate, and launch a 10cm^3 CubeSat into orbit in order to track and report the locations of space debris orbiting Earth. Their CubeSat, named the TrashSAT, would launch into orbit using a rocket designed and fabricated by the team, or quite possibly, NASA. The TrashSAT would be controlled with the Arduino Uno microprocessor/microcontroller, which the team will program to perform specific functions.

L-R: Ayden Snedigar, Austin Matala, Wade Valerius-Johnson, Vincent Ariss, Trevor Almanza, Lainey Brown

Austin Matala, who serves as the team’s Executive Officer said he knew immediately he wanted to participate.

“As soon as this mission project was announced my interest was spiked and I knew I needed to be part of the team. I love space and hope to one day become an Aerospace Engineer. With that said,  I am also hoping to get an “out of this world” experience of what it is like to have a career in the space industry, as well as gain new leadership skills that will benefit me for years to come,” shared Matala.

Phase 2: Mission Build and Launch is expected to begin in January 2021 following the announcement of the five finalist teams. Butler Tech’s Mechatronics team is confident in its ability to be chosen for the next round of the competition.

“We have a wide variety of skill sets and knowledge that is incredibly beneficial to any functioning team. Another reason that we are capable of is because of the resources that are provided to us. In our Mechatronics lab at Butler Tech, D. Russel Lee Campus, we are provided with many great mentors, resources, tools, machines, and computer programs that will prove to be extremely beneficial to be able to assemble the TrashSAT at the highest quality possible.”

Dave Campbell, Butler Tech’s Mechatronics’ instructor, is thrilled with the challenges and possibilities that a project like CTE Mission: CubeSat brings to his students.

“I have been a CTE Educator for 25 years. I am always looking for innovative and engaging projects in which my students can immerse themselves. Much of what our program is based around involves creating unique solutions to complex problems,” said Campbell.

Campbell also shared that the CubeSat competition integrates all aspects of the engineering curriculum in Mechatronics, which includes solving complex problems using design-thinking, teamwork, and production of the prototype. Additionally, the project enables students to research potential careers and educational pathways into those fields.