Students from the New Mexico State University College of Engineering in collaboration with NMSU’s Biology Department and X2nSat, a full-service satellite network operator, are launching a project to measure Pacific Ocean temperatures during the Pacific Cup race.
As part of the Aggie Engineering Capstone Design Program, students are working as an interdisciplinary team to design a device capable of measuring ocean temperatures at various depths with the ability to store and transmit data in real time via satellite communications. X2nSat will provide the satellite communications technology and equipment to enable real-time or near real-time communications.
“The College of Engineering Capstone Design Program provides students with an experiential-learning experience in which students develop knowledge, skills and values from direct experiences solving real-world problems,” said Gabe Garcia, mechanical engineering associate professor and assistant dean of student success for experiential learning. “Through the Capstone Design Program students are exposed to projects defined by industry that are interdisciplinary in nature and more attuned to real-life experience.
“The project will promote partnership between NMSU students and industry. In addition, the project will demonstrate the capabilities of satellite communications over a specific region of the Pacific Ocean,” Garcia said.
Team members include mechanical engineering seniors Caleb Gustin, Joseph Moseley, Dominic Blea and Makena Sutherland, industrial engineering senior Ahmad Atiah and electrical engineering senior Rodion Shishkov. They met with Michele Nishiguchi, Regents Professor and Biology department head, who will advise them on environmental aspects of the project.
“This project is a great opportunity to put our engineering skills to work,” said Gustin, project manager. “We have all worked extremely hard to get to this point. It is rewarding to work with clients, and help their vision come to life. As a team, we are excited to get to work on delivering a good product and collect useful data.”
The Pacific Cup race travels from San Francisco to Hawaii, and the boat carrying the device anticipates an early July start date, so a prototype will be needed in June.
“This will give NMSU students the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art satellite communication systems and collaborate with X2nSat engineers to make this project a success,” Garcia said.
“I think the most challenging aspect of this project will be maximizing data output,” Gustin said. “It is our goal to deliver quality and meaningful data to our clients. As engineers, we strive to maximize our design. That’s where the challenge comes in: How can we capture the highest quality data while staying within our design parameters? Although this can be difficult, we are ready for the challenge. We have had top-notch training through our classes here at NMSU and we have motivated faculty ready to support and guide us.”
An additional challenge for the team will be an aggressive project timeline and possible environmental challenges during the trip, which will also have to be addressed in the design.