About Us

Our Story

The partnership between the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville originated with a vision for broadening the reach of Space as a viable career pathway for students. Essential to this pursuit is creating educational resources that provide a foundational understanding of critical concepts and authentic hands-on activities that apply the knowledge. We believe that this approach affords a richer learning experience that fosters the complexification of learning.

Essential to building an engineering mindset is the allowance for learners to envision themselves as capable through accessible entry points and appropriately scaled versions that provide relevant context. By breaking down the fundamental components that are essential to the space-related systems and providing immersive experiences, learners are able to realize how they come together to function as a greater system. Equally critical to gaining fundamental knowledge and skills in space technologies is also the ability to envision oneself in the field. Therefore, the educational resources also seek to draw connections from the learner’s work to viable pathways for space-related careers.

Critical to designing systems from the ground up, be that a rocket or curriculum, is making all the parts work together. Whether sending and receiving telemetry, comparing simulation to field testing data or contextualizing a technical concept, it is an iterative process that involves trial and error to achieve effective interplay. Therefore, much effort has gone into determining and testing vital components along with establishing commonality across the collection of space-related systems. The benefit is being able to provide a choice of systems with the ability to take apart one system and attempt another. Please meet the team that made this possible.

When I was 14, my parents bought me a small Newtonian reflector telescope. While I had seen pictures of [Jupiter and Saturn] in books, it was amazing to me that they really do exist and, like Galileo, I could see them from my own backyard.
Dr. Joshua Rovey (UIUC) Professor of Aerospace Engineering
I remember the excitement and interest in the space program during the Apollo moon landings and have been interested in space ever since.
Dr. Michael Denn (SIUE) Instructor of Mechanical Mechatronics Engineering
Reusability is the key to everyday access to space.
Dr. Michael Lembeck (UIUC) Professor in Aerospace Engineering
"A proper skeptic questions what they're unsure of but recognizes when valid evidence is presented to change their mind."
—Neil deGrasse Tyson
Dr. Jeffrey Sabby (SIUE) Professor of Physics
Project Coordinator & Educational Consultant (UIUC)
"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make."
— Jane Goodall
Heather Arnett Coordinator of STEM Engagement Activities
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka' but That's funny." — Isaac Asimov
Chris Sewell
Instructional Assistant Professor of Education
(With Barbara Morgan - Teacher & NASA Astronaut)
Instructional Assistant Professor of Education
Content Development (UIUC)
I became interested in aerospace engineering because I wanted to help lessen the gender gap in stem and have always loved physics and math.
Anna Hylbert Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
Part of my motivation in joining this project is to provide other students the opportunity to get interested in aerospace, like how my high school's rocket club did for me.
Seongyong Hong Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
For most of my life I was sure I'd play in the MLB someday. Luckily, I found an interest in physics as a middle schooler after watching Brian Greene on PBS. I've been captivated by science and engineering ever since.
Tim Plomin Graduate Student Aerospace Engineering
After learning physics for the first time in high school and applying math to real-life applications, I gained a huge interest in physics. Connecting this with my childhood dream of becoming a pilot, I decided to pursue aerospace engineering.
John Kim Graduate Student Aerospace Engineering
I waved at the universe today and she smiled back.
Naomi Miranda Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
I have always had an interest in blending robotics with Spacecraft for all potential applications: defense, medicine, exploration, etc. While that may be too much for one lifetime, I intend to delve into it as much as I can!
Will Hunter Undergraduate Industrial Engineering
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo. Going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
— J. R. R. Tolkein, the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Komol Patel Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
My dream ever since I was young is to visit Mars someday.
Charlie Ray Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
"Love is the only thing that transcends time and space."
— Amelia I, 'Interstellar'
Lily Callen Undergraduate Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
My major is in Aerospace Engineering. My love for space started when I was around 5. Being from the DC area I was very close to both the Air and Space Smithsonians. I used to go there almost every week with my dad and I slowly fell in love with all things Aerospace. After watching a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral in 2016, my love for space was cemented and the rest was history.
Pranav Banerjee Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
May the force be with you.
Kulvir Chavda Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
I like rockets.
Vivian Kreeb Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
View Past Team Members
I first got into space my freshman year of high school because of Chris Hadfield's videos from the International Space Station, and from then on I was always fascinated with aerospace engineering and how we can expand on what we know.
Justin Herman Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
I make video game mods and hacks in my spare time, and doing so is how I first became interested in computers and engineering.
Calvin Veldman Undergraduate Computer Engineering
After graduation I hope to attend medical school and pursue a career in space medicine, specifically examining the neurological impacts of prolonged space travel.
Zana Essmyer Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
It's not rocket science or is it.
Daniel Wulf Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
"Being a scientist is like being an explorer. You have this immense curiosity, this stubbornness, this resolute will that you will go forward no matter what other people say."
— Sara Seager
Kayleigh Excell Undergraduate Engineering Physics
Hands-On Kits (SIUE)
"Don't reinvent the wheel, just realign it."
— Anthony D'Angelo
Brandon Hickey Graduate Student Mechanical Engineering
"Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything."
—Chris Hadfield
Lee Bequette Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering
The optimist says, "The glass is half full."
The pessimist says, "The glass is half empty."
The engineer says, "The glass is twice as big as it needs to be."
Leanne Montgomery Graduate Student Mechanical Engineering
"The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you."
— Neil deGrasse Tyson
Jared Jess Undergraduate Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering
View Past Team Members
"Tinkering is something we need to know how to do in order to keep something like the space station running. I am a tinkerer by nature."
—Leroy Chiao
Krishna Vamsee Duggaraju Graduate Student Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
Do not take criticism from those who you would never go to for advice.
Thomas Hagan Undergraduate Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering
Vertical Lander (UIUC)
"They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one."
—Alan Shepard
David Gable Graduate Student Aerospace Engineering
I was born on the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch date.
Qi Lim Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
"You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results."
—James Clear
Chris Young Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering
"Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it and make it the life you want to live."
—Mae Jemison
Courtney Trom Graduate Student Aerospace Engineering
Web Development (UIUC)
"Every problem is a gift ‐ without problems we would not grow."
—Anthony Robbins
Daniel Mena Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering