Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Writer: Shanna Relford
Dr. Bukley Teaches at China’s International Space Institute
Hot, humid and miserable; sounds like the forecast for any day this month in Middle Tennessee, but this is how Dr. Angie Bukley, UTSI’s Assistant Vice President for Research and Development, described her recent trip to Beijing, China. Despite the oppressive heat and poor air quality, Dr. Bukley had a blast teaching in the International Space University’s Space Studies Program and touring some of Beijing’s exciting attractions and landmarks.
Dr. Bukley has been involved with ISU since 1993 and is currently a member of ISU’s Board of Trustees and their Academic Council, which she currently chairs. During the three-week portion of the nine-week intensive space studies program that Dr. Bukley attended from mid-July through early August, she taught core lectures in satellite design as well as advanced seminars on various space topics including space debris, space failures and recoveries, and lessons learned, as well as leading teams in a rocket launch competition and robot-design challenge. Beihang University of Aeronautics & Astronautics in Beijing hosted this summer’s SSP, but the event is held in a different country every year and is slated for Naples, Italy next year.
“The schedule is intense”, said Bukley about ISU, “there is always something going on, everyday and every night.” Designed for the young professional, this summer’s session involved 116 students from 25 different countries from a multitude of backgrounds including doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, and scientists–anyone with an interest in space can apply. The robot-design challenge and the rocket launch were space engineering department highlights of the SSP. Teams were asked to design and build a robot that would start at the “landing pad”, navigate the course, designed to represent the surface of another planet, while avoiding large obstacles and picking up very small ‘precious gems.’ “In the end, all the robots worked as designed, which was an ISU first, and the robot with the most precious gems won. The robot challenge was a really big deal there, Chinese television even broadcast it,” said Dr. Bukley.
“The rocket launch was another exciting time,” Bukley said. The space engineering teams each built a rocket that had to return its ‘payload’ in tact; the payload being a raw egg seated in a delicate Chinese tea cup ejector seat with an attached parachute. The rockets were to go no higher than 340 ft, and all but one of the ‘eggstranauts’ returned to Earth unbroken. The winning rocket, which outreached the others in meeting the design requirements and returning the “pilot” in one piece, was titled Elton John.
Dr. Bukley also spoke at Peking University in Beijing while in China as a guest of Dr. J.Z. Wu, who was a long-time research professor at UTSI and now lives in Beijing. She and Dr. Gilles Clément, with whom she just published the book entitled Artificial Gravity, also addressed a meeting of scientists from the Chinese Astronaut Training Center.
During her limited free time, Dr. Bukley did get to see quite a bit of Beijing, including the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Lama Temple and the Forbidden City, and made a visit to The Great Wall of China, where she made a picnic of Great Wall wine and fresh goat cheese from France along with Dr. Clément and Dr. Jeff Jones, a NASA flight surgeon. “We really had a great time in China, but it’s great to be home,” said Bukley.
WINNING ROBOT—The robot that won this summer’s ISU competition is shown above on the ‘landing pad’. ISU students were asked to design and build a robot that would start at the ‘landing pad’, navigate the course, which was designed to represent the surface of another planet, while avoiding large obstacles and picking up very small ‘precious gems.’ Dr. Angie Bukley, UTSI’s Assistant Vice President for Research and Development, taught students during the ISU space studies program held in Beijing this summer.
ISU TEAM ROCKETS—Some of the team members that built rockets during this summer’s International Space University’s Space Session Program. Students shown in the back row are Jhony Zavaleta (US), Satoru Aoyama (Japan), Xingang Dong (China), and Hajime Kondo (Japan). In the front row, holding their team rockets are Marianne Daae (Norway) with rocket Harmony, Julia Schwartz (Germany) with rocket Elton John, Laura Proserpio (Italy) with rocket Eggjet, and Guillermo Rodriguez (Spain) with rocket Flying Dragon. “Elton John” won the competition.