Students in Int'l CanSat Competition

June  7, 2010

Can an LWTC student team make a satellite the size of this soda can fly, collect and transmit data, and return safetly to earth? Find out on June 11.

A student team from Lake Washington Technical College (LWTC) will compete in the sixth annual International CanSat Competition on June 11-13 in Amarillo, Texas.

The LWTC team will be the only one from the state of Washington and one of only two two-year colleges in the competition, which is open to colleges and universities from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. In all 16 universities and colleges will be represented including the universities of Michigan, Nebraska, Hawaii, Penn State and Florida Institute of Technology as well as schools from Canada, Mexico, Turkey and India. Kapiolani Community College on the Island of Oahu is the other two-year college.

"This is quite an achievement," says Joe Gryniuk an instructor in LWTC's Electronics program and the group's adviser. "The students have worked hard and successfully cleared every step in the review process. They have truly earned this opportunity."

Twelve students representing a cross-section of the campus have been involved since July in the project, which is not part of a class, but an extracurricular activity. "All our students have an open invitation to get involved," Gryniuk explains. "It's a complex project and we needed to tap a variety of skills."

The student's task was two-fold. First, they needed to develop a CanSat the approximate size of a twelve-ounce soda can. The CanSat must be capable of transmitting data to a relay balloon during an ascent to 3,000 feet and subsequent descent. Secondly, the CanSat and an accompanying hen's egg must be returned to earth safely. The descent control system must not use a parachute, para-foil or any similar device. NASA will provide the rockets.

Weather permitting, the students will perform a functional test of their "satellite" on the LWTC campus on Saturday, June 5, at 12:00 noon. A test drop from a private aircraft is planned to simulate the decent of the device and functionality of acquiring "real time" decent data.

Extra points are awarded to teams using the lightest payload that successfully meet the base requirements. All teams can receive additional points by adding functions to their payload. The top five teams will be awarded cash prizes ranging from $500 to $2,500.

LWTC's Associated Student Government is paying for two students to attend the competition. Gryniuk will attend as the group's adviser.

"Their success is gratifying to me on a couple levels," says Gryniuk. "First, the students attacked a series of complex challenges and came up with a workable solutions. Second, it shows we are teaching real world solutions to our students."

The American Astronautical Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics sponsor International CanSat Competition. Financial and volunteer support from the Naval Research Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Ball Aerospace & Technology Corporation.


About the CanSat Competition
The American Astronautical Society and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics have organized an annual student design-build-launch competition for space-related topics. The competition is available to university and college students from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. It allows teams from universities and colleges to design and build a space-type system, according to the specifications released by the competition organizing committee, and then compete against each other to determine the winners.