UM Aero alumni gathered at Peach Mountain to explore with a tethered balloon flight, solar viewing, and the 26 meter radio telescope.

MXL enables and equips new generations of engineers to reach for and journey to places never before explored.  Located at the University of Michigan, education is front and center of what we do in MXL.  

Our approach is straightforward — we embed students in an environment when they can practice and extend their theoretical knowledge while solving real-world, challenging engineering problems.  Our goal is to train field engineers, to harness the inner MacGyver, so that if you ever found yourself stranded on Mars, you might have a chance to survive.    We strive for a complimentary blend of engineering and science and common sense.  

Our educational efforts are implemented in three primary forums.

Classes – MXL teaches and partners with several classes to pass on theoretical and fundamental knowledge.  The classes include but are not limited to:

  • ENG 100-700: Airships
  • AE 205: Introduction to Aerospace Systems
  • AE 347: Space Flight Mechanics
  • AE 405: Aerospace Laboratory II
  • AE 450: Flight Software
  • AE 483: Space System Design
  • AE 548: Astrodynamics
  • EECS 430: Radio wave Propagation and Link Design

In-Situ Student Projects – Sink or swim, MXL throws students into real world projects that center on building exploratory space vehicles.  Students operate, test, build, and design small satellites for science and technology demonstrations as well as high altitude balloon missions or novel flight vehicles.  

Outreach Events – During our flights, we often have the opportunity to partner with local STEM educational work.  For example, our balloon flights typically launch from public schools, and we reach out to them for ways to include their students.  Some groups contact us directly and we help enable their space-related work.  Tours are ad hoc and often of our FXB facilities.

Historically, we have had 20-40 students working with and in MXL during the school year and summer.  Space is broad enough that we have partnered with many majors in engineering and the arts and sciences.

A variety of student engagement activities are shown below.  Be sure to check out our Facebook feed as well for latest activities.

GRIFEX and the MXL integration team.
The students built their own balloons from sheets of plastic after the launch.
MXL students after recovering the balloon payload west of Clinton, MI.
The 600 g tethered balloon next to the Peach Mountain Radio Observatory.
Dr. Michelle Larson from The Adler Planetarium visits MXL. SEDS students, Andrea Day and Joshua Lipshaw, were her hosts.
Kathryn Luczek describes a CubeSat mission to NSF colleagues.