SCION Team Wins First Ever SSPI Engineering Student Competition

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The SCION team and Dean Menasce receive their award at the SSPI Student Engineering CompetitionA team compromised of eight student from the MS in Telecommunications program presented their work on satellite clusters at the First Annual SSPI Student Engineering Competition and was awarded the first place by a panel of judges from industry and academia. Congratulations go to James Bonner, Gregory Bock, Rishab Jaiswal, Neha Nagar, Amit Puranik, Kyurim Rhee, Edward Sestak, Vidya Venugopal for their outstanding work and very professional presentation.The competition was sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society of Satellite Professionals International and took place at Intelsat in Washington; this was the first of what will be an annual event. The competition was open to students from George Mason University and George Washington University with the requirement that the entry must describe an innovative solution to a problem in space systems.

The team of Telecommunications students submitted an entry entitled Satellite Cluster in Orbit Network (SCION) that was the product of a semester project undertaken in the Fall 2010 semester in Dr. Allnutt's TCOM 707 - Advanced Satellite Communications class. The project describes a complete design for a cluster of five geo-stationary satellites as an alternative to a traditional single, large satellite. The design increases the flexibility of the satellite system and reduces its vulnerability. 

Amit Puranik from the SCION team during the project presentationWhile the work on the project was carried out in the Fall of 2010, an important factor in judging the entries in the competition were presentations that were delivered on April 28 at Intelsat. The SCION team was represented by Rishab Jaiswal, Amit Puranik, Edward Sestak, and Vidya Venugopal. They were able to distill a large set of results they had obtained into a coherent, complete, and very professional presentation that resonated with the panel of judges.

The competing entry from the George Washington University described work on a micro-vacuum arc thruster for use in small satellites. The team from GWU presented results of research into improving the efficiency of the arc thruster via a magnetic field to focus the plasma jet.

In a narrow decision the panel of judges selected the SCION team from George Mason University was selected as the winners of the competition. This success is even more impressive in light of the high quality of the competing entry.

Big thanks are due to SSPI for organizing and sponsoring this competition. In particular, Joan Mancuso and Lynette Simmons worked tirelessly to prepare and host this event. Additional thanks go to the panel of judges who volunteered their time and expertise in support of the competition.