Leveraging CubeSats to Support Space Education and Research in Information Systems Field
Daniel Freburg Illinois State University
Elahe Javadi Illinois State University
Cube Satellites (CubeSats) are disruptive educational and research technologies that have attracted many students and early career professionals during the past two decades. The CubeSats were created nearly twenty years ago at California Polytechnique State University so that graduate students could engage in experiential learning related to satellites. These small satellites have become inexpensive and accessible to colleges to create and launch. These qualities have made the small satellites an instrument of choice for universities to advance competencies in areas of engineering, electronics, astronomy, physics, and other fields. Currently, the US has launched approximately 2,000 of the total 4,000 CubeSats in the world. A basic CubeSat cost is about $10,000 - $50,000 and takes 2 years to plan, build, test, and prepare for launch. Since the creation of CubeSats, most of the research and education work has been in the engineering field. This paper identifies the pathways through which the information systems field can leverage CubeSat projects to advance space technology research and education. The areas of space technology that intersect with the information systems fields include Networking, Internet of Things Applications, Systems Analysis and Design, Data and Information Management, and Infrastructure. Incorporating CubeSats in the IS curricula would help create a more diverse community of professionals in the fields as Information Systems programs are more diverse than pure engineering programs. In this work, we describe the work done to establish a ground station for receiving CubeSat data which is conducive to the topics of data management and software-based radio. We also identify three different approaches in which Information Systems can contribute to broadening space education: (1) collaborating with an already existing CubeSat program in their home institution, (2) collaborating with an already existing CubeSat program in another institution in the home state, (3) collaborating with an engineering program to initiate a CubeSat program. Our effort to start a ground station fits into the second category. We also share a review of the programs that exist in each state and share potentials of research and learning in the classroom as well as in informal settings (e.g., community education programs).
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