Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) is close to finalizing an ESA-funded multidisciplinary educational project, dedicated to developing the students’ competences in aerospace — particularly in building fully functional smallsats.
NanoAvionics has supported this project by providing sub-systems, which have helped to fit the integration of the satellites into the tight project timeline, along with adding some necessary expertise to the project team. This innovative project connected more than 50 students from 10 different academic disciplines, including electrical engineering, avionics, informatics, mechanical engineering, and business management. The students have been working in four different teams, each developing their own CubeSat engineering prototypes, dedicated to unique primary and secondary mission objectives.
According to project initiator and Vice Dean of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University faculty of Electronics, Raimondas Pomarnacki, the project was approved immediately after Lithuania became a European Space Agency (ESA) cooperative state at the end of 2014. The actual educational activities began in 2016 with an initial set of lectures and workshops led by a select group of experts related to aerospace engineering and satellite mission planning.
The practical elements of the project included descriptions of primary and secondary missions, the design and implementation of subsystem modules, along with manufacturing each of the parts, assembling them, and the final verification of finished engineering prototypes.
The project was funded by the ESA, which states that one of the most important tasks has been to inform the public about the latest advances and discoveries in the space field, and to develop programs which will inspire young people to pursue careers in science and technology. The aim of this educational program is to help young Europeans, up to age 28, gain and maintain an interest in science and technology, with the long-term objectives of contributing towards the creation of a knowledge-based society and ensuring the existence of a qualified workforce for the Agency that will ensure Europe’s continued leadership in space-related activities.
Dovydas Bruzas, an electronics engineer and one of the participants of the project, was happy to share his experiences — “I knew that I want to take part in this project as soon as I read the subject line of the invitation email, because I’ve been interested in electronics and aeronautics from a very early age. I am an electronics engineer so, naturally, my practical work during this project was related to my discipline – I designed circuit diagrams and PCBs for Electrical Power System (EPS), Command and Data Handling (C&DH), Altitude Determination & Control (AD&C) subsystems. The project brought me new connections, helped me with my graduation assignment and, most importantly, because of this project I started to work in space tech field and I love my job.”
According to Vytenis Buzas, the CEO of NanoAvionics, such support of educational projects within the space technology field is of high importance — the company’s history began with the university-led CubeSat project, which later developed into the first national satellite launched to space, the LituanicaSAT-1. Vilnius Gediminas Technical University has many talented engineering students and such hands-on projects can provide them with the knowledge base necessary to enter the challenging environments of the space tech field. Such cooperation has a direct positive outcome for the firm's business, namely available and well-educated talent, many of whom have already joined NanoAvionics as interns or full-time employees.