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It Is Rocket Science After All

At the September CSU Board of Trustees meeting Dr. Eric Besnard, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, highlighted the California Vehicle Launch Education Initiative, the only program in the United States that offers undergraduate and graduate students hands-on research experience designing, building and launching liquid-propelled rockets.

A few university programs throughout the country offer students the chance to build rockets with commercially-made engines, but in the California Vehicle Launch Education Initiative (CALVEIN), students start at square one designing and building everything from the engine up – a process that can take anywhere from a few months to a year and culminates with the flight test of the prototype launch vehicle.  Since CALVEIN was established in 2001 in partnership with Long Beach–based Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC), students have launched a dozen rockets traveling as fast as 800 miles per hour and as high as 10,000 feet with higher altitudes planned in the next few months. The ultimate goal is to launch a 22-pound payload into orbit.   

“CALVEIN serves as an avenue for university research and technology developments.  It also offers graduate students a chance to conduct research and development and undergraduate students – even freshmen – to obtain hands-on system development experience and that is a unique feature,”  Besnard said.  “Students gain valuable real-world experience.  There is a lot of teamwork and pressure like in the real world; when we say we are going to launch we all have to be ready.”

Besnard presented at the Board of Trustees meeting with graduate student Matt Baker and alumnus Collin Corey.  Visit the CALVEIN web site for more information.

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