Day One: Build a Better Spacecraft
by Mike Wiskerchen
If They Build It...
If students build a better spacecraft and send it into space, will
the world beat a path to their door? Dr. Michael Wiskerchen, associate
director of CalSpace at the University of California at San Diego,
hopes so. His science and technology workforce training program
involves students in all aspects of planning and executing an Earth-observation
space mission, from designing and building to launching. And when
the mission provides detailed images of Earth, they'll develop a
public/private business plan for marketing the data and determining
how it will fit into California's economic development.
Uniquely, for a workforce development and educational program,
it is expected to turn a profit. With $100 million in funding, revenues
from a worldwide market are estimated to reach as much as $200 million.
It's a statewide story with national ramifications. It is expected
to influence training approaches and provide a model for public-private
partnerships across the country.
An exciting feature, according to Dr. Wiskerchen, is that "people
are being trained, day one," as soon as the program begins
ó with the planning of the mission ó the benefits start
to be realized. ó Mary Howell,
California is the sixth largest industrial power in the world.
That's a profoundly big thing. And it represents both enormous opportunity
and enormous responsibility. We need an educated workforce to manage
the needs facing us in the 21st century.
The United States and California have always been endowed with
gifted scientists, engineers and inventors who have improved our
lives, fueled new commerce and captured our imaginations. As a result
they have led the world in aerospace innovation, technology, jobs
and sales. Today, internal skilled labor shortages and foreign competition
threaten that lead.
High-technology workforce issues have recently risen in priority.
Rapid growth in the information technology sector has created a
shortage of engineers and programmers, restraining growth in many
technology markets, including the aerospace industry where a shortfall
of experienced professionals is threatening current projects and
limiting the ability of U.S. firms to capture new programs. The
United States needs a highly educated and technically competent
workforce capable of mastering all the new skills.
The Project ó Meeting the Need
The California Space Institute (CalSpace), a multi-campus research
unit of the University of California, has developed an innovative
workforce development program to provide hands-on experience to
the next generation of scientists and engineers. This workforce
development program (called student-mentor) will train university
and high-school students in the end-to-end design, development,
manufacture, operation and management of a remote-sensing space
mission. Students will be mentored by experienced professionals
from both the private and public sectors. It will also provide K-12
students with a real-world community environment for experiential
learning of math, science, technology and oral and written communications.
The project, called California 2002, will utilize the combined efforts
of the University of California and other California higher education
institutions, the state of California, the California Space Institute,
federal government agencies, professional educators, business professionals
and California's space industry in a public-private partnership.
The California Space Institute will provide coordination, and the
process is managed through the CalSpace Centers of Excellence Program,
which provides a proactive environment for both horizontal networking
10 campuses of the UC system and vertical integration between research,
workforce development and educational outreach activities. The CalSpace
Program is closely aligned with the NASA sponsored California Space
Grant Consortium (the Congressionally designated Space Grant College
and Fellowship Program for California).
Project participants will acquire high-quality remote sensing information
for use in earth science research, worldwide commercial applications
and as a content driver for educational curriculum at all levels.
Two satellites will be designed, built, launched and operated utilizing
California space infrastructure. Using California industry-provided
hardware, mentored students will be responsible for design, manufacture,
assembly, test and integration ó and launch, in 2002, at the
California spaceport at Vandenburg Air Force Base.
This space- (and land-) oriented program will be structured as
a professional career-training program focused on preparing workers
for high-technology jobs and developing student-mentor programs
throughout California. California 2002 will use the latest information
technologies to create "skill appropriate" learning environments
for both university and high-school-to-career students. Students
will utilize distributed network infrastructure, geographic information
systems, software engineering and Web-based capabilities that support
e-learning and electronic commerce.
Funding is proposed to be $100 million over three years, one-third
each from the state and federal governments and from industry. The
first definition phase of California 2002 extends from January to
July of 2001. This first phase will enable the private and public
partners to develop a statewide business plan defining all technical,
engineering, workforce, education and research and commercial applications
aspects of the program.
The broad scope of California 2002, involving economic development,
workforce development, information technology and communications,
and education, requires the synergistic participation of several
state agencies including Technology, Trade and Commerce (formerly
Trade and Commerce), Employment Development Department, CalTrans
and the Department of Education. The program creates geographically
distributed regional centers where CalSpace and California Space
Grant affiliates from campuses of the California State Universities,
the University of California, private universities and California
community colleges will work with the state's Employment Development
Department and high schools. This will bring together the best technical
knowledge and teaching methods from all of these educational institutions
for a real collaboration, and enable them to do what they do best.
CalSpace, directed by Dr. Wolfgang Berger, will bring together
CalSpace's Centers of Excellence at UC's Berkeley, Merced, Santa
Cruz, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Davis campuses, forming California
2000's core management team. California university and high-school
students will learn by developing a program to obtain meaningful
images of California from space. Curriculum and student-mentor projects
will be built around the business, political, economic, public policy
and historic interplay required to move the project from concept
to launch to public application.
Participating educational and research institutions, including
federal and state laboratories, will cooperate in developing the
spacecraft's instrumentation and data requirements for California
environmental, agricultural and geographic data programs. Low-cost
ground stations will be developed and installed in key California
regions, providing space communication capability for this and future
missions. Ground station data gathering capability will be integrated
with CalSpace's Space-Connect system allowing all private and public
partners to participate through intranet-based communication and
program management techniques.
Additional learning projects and curriculum will be developed to
use the high quality space images produced for agriculture and environmental
studies. Participants will process multi-spectral camera image data
and provide it to research analysis and application centers such
as the UC Davis John Muir Center for Environmental and Agricultural
Studies, the UC Merced Sierra Nevada Research Institute, UC San
Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UC Santa Barbara's
Remote Sensing Center. This new research and application data will
benefit all of California.
California's Space Legacy
For more than 40 years government-sponsored space has been a significant
part of California's economy. That space economy was rooted in large
NASA and U.S. Air Force programs created to meet Cold War political
and military threats. Today's space economy reaches beyond the historic
launch-vehicle and satellite industries. Space-based assets have
become critical in many non-traditional industries such as interstate
truck tracking, telerobotic machinery control, environment monitoring,
agricultural control, information distribution and worldwide telecommunications.
Space has even reached the entertainment industry, where big-screen
fantasies foreshadow the space industry's future and its practitioners'
New Century, New Challenges
In August 1999, Gov. Gray Davis sponsored the first California
Aerospace Day. At that conference the governor correctly identified
the need for a skilled and capable work force to meet the space
industry's current and future growth.
Gov. Davis has also asked the University of California to help
build the workforce of tomorrow by providing funds for outreach,
teacher training and work-force development. The University of California,
which is capable of combining research, workforce development,
K-12 outreach and industry partnerships, has responded adding several
The program is structured to integrate academic instruction/experiences
with real industry problems and applications. Future scientists,
engineers, software programmers and entrepreneurs will experience
all aspects of the development, manufacture, operation and use of
Environment and Agricultural monitoring satellites. Standards-based
curriculum and outreach programs will be created for K-12 students,
providing real-world math and science knowledge and experiences,
utilizing Internet-based learning tools built around the California
The largest outcome of this space program is the development of
a world-class workforce at home. Highly skilled student graduates
at all educational levels (the workers of the new millennium) will
receive real-life experience in their education-developing the technical
skills to use and create cutting-edge technology. It's designed
to build the quality workforce of the future by inspiring America's
children and teaching them how to excel.
Dr. Michael J. Wiskerchen is deputy director
for the California Space Institute (CalSpace) at University of California,
San Diego (UCSD) and director of the California Space Grant Consortium
(NASA sponsored K-12, undergraduate, and graduate educational program).
His recent efforts at UCSD have been focused on the development,
application and operations of space related projects involving an
alliance between industry, university, and government partners.
These projects range from natural hazards and remote sensing (free
flyers, shuttle and Space Station) to deep-space missions to asteroids
and other planetary bodies.
His responsibilities include coordination
of space-related science and engineering research for the nine campuses
within the University of California system, and coordinator for
the CalSpace Industrial Affiliates program. He is recognized as
a national leader in student/mentor hands-on career training programs
at the high school, university, and industry levels. These programs
emphasize the effective use of state-of-the-art distance learning
(World Wide Web, multimedia curriculum) techniques in a collaborative
environment involving academic, industry and government participants.
California Space Institute (CalSpace) Multi-Campus
Research Unit (MRU) of UC
Promotes Space-Related Basic Research
Education & Outreach
CalSpace/Space Grant Industrial Liaison Program
California Space Institute (CalSpace) & California Space
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093-0524
Dr. Wolfgang Berger, Director, California Space Institute (CalSpace)
Dr. Michael Wiskerchen, Director, California Space Grant Consortium
Deputy Director, California Space Institute
California Space Grant Consortium
National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program Established
in 1988 by Congress and administered by NASA; 52 Consortia (All
50 states, Puerto Rico, D.C.).
California Space Grant Goals
California Space Grant Consortium Affiliates
UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego,
UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, CSU Long Beach, CSU San Diego,
CSU San Jose, Palomar College, Pomona College, S.F. Art Institute,
Santa Clara Univ., Southwestern College, Stanford Univ., CalPoly-SLO,
Univ. of San Diego.
Key Program Thrust
Facilitate the creation of a number of hands-on collaborative
projects which combine students at all levels with mentors from
academic, aerospace and high technology industry, and federal,
state and local government sectors
Take a leadership role in the development of interdisciplinary
aerospace curriculum and research applicable to education at
the elementary through university levels
High priority is given to recruiting and training the California
work-force, especially women and underrepresented minorities,
for careers in aerospace science, engineering, technology and
Include the KidSat/EarthKAM Project, the Prometheus (Mars Sample
Return Technologies) Project, the Lunar Rover-Power Beaming Technology
Demonstration Mission, and a UC Berkeley Satellite Connection
The John Muir Center for Environmental and
Agricultural Studies at UC Davis
The John Muir Institute of the Environment will be a Center of
Excellence for research and outreach programs related to the biological,
physical, and human environment. Its central mission will be to
improve the scientific basis for making decisions on environmental
issues through the application of research. The Institute will work
with federal, state and regional agencies to develop a comprehensive
and cross-disciplinary approach to environmental management and
problem solving. Solutions based on ecological, toxicological, economic,
societal and regulatory models will be promoted.
Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced
The mission of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute is to discover
and disseminate new knowledge that contributes to sustaining natural
resources and promoting social well being in the Great Valley and
Sierra Nevada regions of California, and related regions worldwide,
through integrated research in the natural, social, and information
sciences. This will include integrated remote sensing of social
and ecological processes, data assimilation for regional atmospheric,
hydrologic and ecosystem models and field computing.