On June 6th to 12th, the University of Hawaiʻi at Maui College (UHMC) Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) program participated in the American Astronautical Society 2023 CanSat Competition at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Virginia. The UHMCanSat team comprised of five students, Christian Falcon, Angelica Juarez, Joe Vincent Yuro, Christian Yadao, and Justin Lucas Bio, and placed 27th overall out of the forty teams that particpated.
The objective of the competition was to challenge hundreds of universities around the world to design and create a rocket payload that can collect sensor data during flight and be able to launch 725 meters off the ground. Each team had to follow the rigorous structure and design phases of a typical NASA project with Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review, Flight Readiness Review, Launch Operations, and Post Flight Review. After finishing of the Preliminary Design Review, the top 40 teams were selected from twenty of the best United States’ Universities and twenty on a international scale to get a chance at launching their rocket.
After being selected as one of the United States’ teams, the UHMC team got started on each individual subsystem for the rocket. The rocket’s functions were then subdivided into 6 different subsystems being sensor, descent control, mechanical, flight software, electrical power, and ground control station subsystems for better project management. With a finished prototype and all the onerous work placed into collaborating on this project, the launch day rolled around where they were judged based on each critical design phase.
Christian Yadao, a mechanical team member of UHMCanSat, commented, “You learn things you wouldn’t learn in a classroom, only through hands-on experience. We’ve been exposed to so many facets of engineering, project management and teamwork. Through designing, building and testing our CanSat, it taught us the importance of technical proficiency and soft skills in a real engineering setting. Being able to communicate and collaborate with people are indispensable skills I will take with me everywhere.”
Justin Lucas Bio, electrical team member of UHMCanSat, commented, “I’m not much of a collaborative person. I usually take my assigned job and work on it by myself. This project, however, showed that collaboration is crucial to success. Everyone is here because they have the knowledge and skills to offer one another. It is the best way to work.”
Christian Falcon, team leader of UHMCanSat, concluded, “The CanSat competition has been a wonderful, inspiring experience, visiting a beautiful campus and meeting many talented students. Not only has this project given each of us a strong piece to add to our resumes, but we also have learned many valuable lessons in multiple aspects of engineering, such as programming, electronics design, and mechanical engineering. Although we might not have won the competition, I feel that I can consider this as a win for myself in that I have learned many lessons in project management, proper engineering ethic, and the fact we created a working flight-ready payload that was launched in a rocket. I have seen myself and my team grow from not knowing much about any field of engineering required for this competition to using the ECET programs’ teachings, self-taught engineering lessons, and countless working hours to create a working CanSat. I am proud of our work and the spot we’ve earned in the competition.”
Congratulations team UHMCanSat on all the work you have done and we can’t wait to see what you have planned next!