mxl_2019MXL is recruiting, and we are looking for students and with a broad range of roles. Listed below are a few skill sets currently in demand (feel free to mix and match parts of different skill sets if you aren’t sure which category you fit into). These are only suggestions – if you love space, are a fast learner, and have a drive to finish what you start, contact us – chances are, we would love to have you on the team!

Here is a  caveat, however.   If you apply, make sure you’re ready to commit at least 10-15 hours per week – we’ve found that fewer than this makes it difficult to learn and contribute in a meaningful way.

For more information on recruitment, contact Include your resume and a summary of your skills, a few words on why you’d like to join, and what yours pecific project interests, and how you can specifically contribute to specific projects.

Current Projects: (August 2021)

MC9 MC9 is our 9th dedicated CubeSat mission.  We will be testing novel shape actuation systems for NASA and several internal MXL payloads. Majors: All.

  • Coders: Linux gurus, C masters, embedded code ninjas, and cloud pros needed for our satellite vehicles and operation centers.  
  • Embedded Hardware and Manufacturing: We’re building the flight satellite F21 and W22.  Requires embedded hardware and testing experience.
Sat Ops We have two operational satellites on orbit that we are actively communicating with and controlling.  We perform daily contacts with ground stations in Ann Arbor and around the world.

  • Operators: Command and control satellites through Internet-connected ground stations.  Skills: general engineering knowledge with good familiarity with computers, coding desired.
  • Coders: Linux gurus, C masters, and cloud pros needed for development of our operations software, MIDAS.
Ground Stations  Ground stations are communication gateways between space and the ground.  We have built two, one on FXB and one on CSRB.  We’re looking to upgrade these and deploy additional systems.  We would like to create a solar powered, Satnogs-compatible tracking station.

  • SDR/RF: Our stations use software defined radios typically running gnuradio.  There are several applications we are developing for custom ground station systems and integration into Satnogs.  
  • Systems: We are developing a solar powered, remote operated ground station.  This involves many multi disciplinary skills and we need a “systems” person to put it all together. 
Next Gen Cubesats  We’re always looking for ways to improve our satellite system capabilities.  Here are a few topics and we’re open to other ideas and suggestions too.

  • Power Systems: Our vehicles are typically powered by solar panels and lithium ion batteries.    We are continually evolving and advancing our capabilities.  Work includes developing new lithium ion battery packs, more efficient (space and power) regulators, deployable solar panels, testing systems.
  • Flight Computers:  Our processors are older tech and we’re looking for more advanced and capable computing systems for our vehicles.  Typically we take commercial compute on module and integrate them into custom motherboards. 
  • Other Subsystems: We’re open to improvement and development on other systems such as communications (radios), and attitude determination and control but we do not have any active projects at the moment.  Let us know if you have ideas.
Farside Seismic Suite  We are supporting NASA and JPL’s FSS mission to explore the far side of the moon.  We are developing power, computer, and communication subsystems based on the MarCO mission.

  • Communications:  We are developing a comm system that interfaces to a TBD lunar relay satellite.  The system will be developed by a third party and we will design and integrate the system.  
  • Software: We are extending MarCO flight software to support FSS. This requires C-level, MSP430 programming and knowledge of the entire FSS system.


Current Positions: (August 2021) 

Post Doc (Official job posting)

The University of Michigan Space Institute in collaboration with the Michigan Exploration Laboratory (MXL) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is seeking a postdoc to help develop a sustainable nanosatellite flight program centered on student education and novel space mission research. As part of the inaugural activities of the Space Institute, we are developing a multi-year course sequence that will teach scientists and engineers how to design, build, test, and fly space missions. This effort will leverage the technology and processes of over ten nanosatellite missions developed and flown by the University of Michigan and include close collaboration with faculty from multiple departments (such as Aerospace, Climate and Space, Electrical, and Astronomy) and the Space Physics Research Laboratory. As part of a team, the postdoc will participate in:

  • Feasibility studies of space missions and their impact on education and science.
  • Development, testing, integration and flight of satellite subsystems and payloads.
  • Collaboration and coordination with multiple national and international organizations related to active space research programs.
  • Authoring and presenting novel research and mission concepts.
  • Teaching and supervising the students in the nanosatellite flight courses and program.

This position is a good fit for someone with extensive experience in a particular space system capability and with broad, general understanding of all space mission systems. The ideal candidate will have excellent applied laboratory skills and experience developing flight hardware. As part of a team, the Fellow will be involved in all aspects of research and teaching of space missions, including design and execution of experiments and missions, data analysis, manuscript preparation, and presentation, and mentoring.

Lab Manager
The UM Space Institute and MXL are looking for a team-oriented professional to provide support for our hands-on and laboratory courses. You will build and maintain spacecraft, ground stations, robots, hardware, software, and tools that are used in the labs. Additionally there may be opportunities to help us develop hardware for new lab courses and space missions related to our educational activities. The Space Institute was recently created with investment from across the university to develop educational and research capabilities to explore outer space. We are newly formed, and as a member of our team you will have the chance to grow along with us. You will report to the Education Associate Director of the Space Institute.

You will:

  • Conceive and build new electro-mechanical space-related robotic systems and testbeds for space robotics educational laboratories. Examples include high altitude balloon platforms, Cubesats, wheeled robotic platforms, multicopter platforms.
  • Maintain laboratory kits, robotic subsystems, and test/fabrication equipment, such as oscilloscopes, 3D printers, computer networks, and camera systems.
  • Design, assemble, and test electronic prototype circuits.
  • Develop schematics and engineering drawings, use computer-aided design tools, perform circuit layout, populate circuit boards, debug and test.
  • Engage with students, including undergraduate and graduate students within space robotic courses, and pre-college students participating in outreach programs.

Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s of Science degree in engineering or other relevant discipline.
  • Experience with circuit board debugging, low-level device drivers, and associated debugging skills Software experience in diverse environments (ex. Python, C, C++, JavaScript, ARM, AVR, MSP430, assembly, Linux), with proficiency in several.
  • Experience with instrumentation including sensor calibrations, amplifier set up, data collection, and system level diagnostics.
    Excellent soldering skills required for delicate components.
  • Mechanical skills (ex. manual/computer-numerical-control mills, computer-aided design tools, 3D printers) necessary to fabricate modest parts and assemblies.

Desired Qualifications

  • Master’s of Science degree in engineering or other relevant discipline.
  • Interest and ability to work with open-source software libraries such as for inter-process communication, computer vision, and robot control.
  • Expertise in electronics hardware design, embedded software development, real-time control and data acquisition, and some mechanical/mechatronics design.
  • Experience in space/sea/land/air robotics.
  • Experience in spaceflight hardware and software systems.
  • Experience in radio system usage (digital and voice) and programing of software defined radios (SDRs).
  • Project management experience management budgets, schedules and work break down