The Louisiana ACES student-built BalloonSat program
A major concern of many aerospace industries and space agencies worldwide is the continuing decrease in undergraduate student enrollment and graduation from aerospace and closely related degree programs. With a decreasing number of new aerospace workforce candidates, expanding or sustaining our exploration of the universe over the coming decades could be at risk. In Louisiana, we have developed the Aerospace Catalyst Experiences for Students (ACES) program to address this issue by attracting new students to aerospace-related programs and providing interdisciplinary training on how to design, build, and manage aerospace payloads. Based upon the National Space Grant Student Satellite Program "Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly!" methodology, ACES closely ties cross-discipline content knowledge with extensive hands-on experiences to instill skills that are then applied by the students to design, document, build, test, and operate a small balloon-borne scientific payload. The ACES concept was initially piloted during 2002-2003 and now includes a semi-formal "Student Ballooning Course", five Louisiana institutions and serves ∼45 students. © 2006 COSPAR.