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University professors and students from Turkey, Romania and all over the United States gathered on Thursday – all in the name of CubeSat.

“CubeSat is a worldwide organization run by Cal Poly,” said Roland Coelho, the assistant coordinator of CubeSat who helped organize the third annual CubeSat Developers’ Workshop. The workshop began Thursday and will continue through Saturday, hosting more than 20 universities and nearly 20 companies.

Through the workshop, students will be able to work both together and with major corporations to improve their knowledge and designs of picosatellites (small satellites). Various leaders in picosatellite technology will give presentations and demonstrations.

CubeSat was started in 1999 in collaboration with Stanford University in order to design a small satellite standard that could be capable of all that a regular-sized satellite offers. Coelho said the purpose of CubeSat is to allow students and companies to work together with the goal of developing better, faster and cheaper satellites.

“It’s what everything’s headed toward,” Coelho said. “In the past – the ability to build a satellite from the ground up took a long time.

“(It helps to) give students hands-on experience and to make the transition to industry easier.”

Simon Lee, an aerospace engineering graduate student and CubeSat coordinator, is one of these students who hopes to make the transition.

“I would like to get a job out of this,” he said. “(The workshop) builds a lot of connections.”

He estimated that he has been involved with the program for nearly five years and said he spends about 30 to 40 hours a week working on the program.

Many companies and universities come to Cal Poly to test their products because Cal Poly has the technology to do so, Lee said. In the mechanical engineering department in building 105, there is a vibration table to which the picosatellite is mounted on to see how the unit endures a simulated shuttle launching. The welding department in building 58 houses a thermal vacuum chamber, which removes the air within the chamber and tests the picosatellite with fluctuating temperatures from heaters and liquid nitrogen. This gauges whether the picosatellite can withstand the heat of the sun or the coldness of the sun’s absence.

Not only does CubeSat allow networking opportunities and experience for the students, but it is cheaper for the companies as well.

“The main factor is that it provides a small enough package at a low cost for universities to build,” Lee added. “A large satellite would cost a few million while, for roughly the same science, it costs $40,000 because of the (CubeSat) standard. It’s what a real satellite can do but put in a smaller package.”

The workshop will take place today in the Advanced Technology Laboratories, building 7, from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday’s workshop will be held in Brown Engineering, Room 109 in building 41A from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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