Miami University

Miami University is home to the very first Student Chapter of Project High Flight.  The Miami Chapter is comprised of over 55 undergraduate students (all first and second year students) from a variety of different majors, including engineering, business, geography and teacher education.  The chapter continues to actively recruit even more students.  What everyone shares in common is an interest in developing their creative abilities and a thirst for exploring new fields of knowledge.  The chapter’s activities focus on three main areas.  1) Researching the technologies required to design and build a remote controlled long-duration high-flying stratospheric balloon vehicle that could remain in near space for up to one year.  Near space is defined as the upper limit of the Earth’s atmosphere between 60,000 – 328,000 feet in altitude.  2) Design and fabricate scientific payloads that get launched into space on NASA sounding rockets in programs including RockOn and RockSat-C.  3) Researching methods and activities can be used to help enhance a person’s creativity.  Towards this end Project High Flight is collaborating with the Department of Teacher Education to develop a variety of space themed creativity workshops intended for middle school and high school outreach efforts.

Miami’s Project High Flight team consists of students and mentors from a variety of different backgrounds.  They are always actively seeking out new partners to join with them in the endeavor.  The students want to connect with government and industry organizations that share their interests and are willing to help them achieve their objectives.  So far, they have established collaborative relationships with the Ohio Aerospace Institute, the Ohio Space Grant Consortium, the NASA Glenn Research Center, the US Air Force Research Laboratory, Project Greenman, and Miami University’s Department of Teacher Education (Teacher Academy Program).

In addition to all of this, Miami’s Project High Flight team members are also each pursuing creative projects that are intended to reawaken and develop their capacity for innovation.  These creative projects range from fine arts like sculpture and painting, to poetry and story writing, to musical performance, and even to movie making.  Each student must pick at least one form of purely creative practice to pursue in addition to the technical tasks that are required.  It is the expectation that by pursuing these purely creative endeavors, the students will sharpen their innovative abilities and that this will lead to better technical solutions on the balloon project.  Everyone also expects that this will make the project more fun for everyone involved.

The Chapter’s near term goals include:  1) flying several conventional high altitude balloon missions to gain valuable experience, 2) designing and fabricating a scientific payload for RockSat-C that will test for biomedical effects of spaceflight, and increasing their participation in RockOn, 3) developing and delivering space related creativity workshops in collaboration with Miami’s Department of Teacher Education, 4) establishing additional partnerships with government and industry, and 5) pursuing their individual creative projects.  In the years that follow they plan to gradually extend the durations of their balloon missions by implementing new innovative technologies, and to begin offering their creativity workshops to area middle school and high school students.  They also plan to grow the list of partners working with them.  Finally, before the end of 2015, they plan to demonstrate a capability to fly remote-controlled missions lasting a year or more.