Space Science and Astrophysics

The program in space science is one of distinctively few such programs nationwide offered at the undergraduate level. The presence of the 21-meter space tracking antenna and radio telescope on campus and the availability of the extraordinary facilities in the Space Science Center for our students and faculty for instruction and research provide a solid foundation for the program. Excellent faculty with diverse backgrounds in space related science and technology allow students to tap the full potential of our state-of-the-art facilities. The curriculum has been chosen to be rigorous but not too narrow or specialized. Graduates from the program will have a breadth of knowledge, experience, skills and adaptability — the marketable tools of new and exciting professional careers in space science, aerospace and the telecommunications industry.

The main goal of this program is to prepare graduates for professional opportunities in applied technologies such as space system development and testing, satellite tracking and telemetry, and telecommunications electronics. The program provides a broad but sound education in the basic physical and mathematical sciences, as well as specialized instruction in astronomy, astrophysics, electronics, space systems, and satellite technology. Research opportunities in astrophysics, space systems, engineering, engineering technology, and telecommunications are also available through the space science program. Graduates of this program will be particularly well qualified to seek positions with NASA, aerospace companies, public and private science organizations, research facilities, colleges, astronomical observatories and in other commercial industries.

Program Competencies

The student will:

  1. Develop the basic competencies in system engineering and gain familiarity with the concepts and technologies associated with aerospace systems requirements, particularly spacecraft and related subsystems.
  2. Learn how to use basic laboratory instrumentation and acquire skills that permit a rapid start in practical "real world" applications in the workplace.
  3. Understand issues common to all radio frequency based communications systems, specify relevant system components, participate in design trade studies, perform field/laboratory work at the engineering technologist level, prepare technical reports including studies and analyses and have sufficient preparation to be able to quickly assimilate new technical information.
  4. Be prepared to enter the workforce as an entry-level systems engineer or engineering technologist with the ability to integrate the knowledge gained in coursework with the necessary skills of self-direction and research/project implementation.
  5. Have an understanding of semiconductor physics, atomic bonding, and crystal structures and imperfections that ultimately dictate the physical and mechanical properties of the materials. Students will also be familiar with processes leading to materials failure, such as thermal, radiative, erosive and corrosive degradations, as well as the corresponding protection approaches as related to the extreme conditions of the space environment.
  6. Become familiar with a variety of government and commercial professional opportunities in addition to those in the space industry. These include opportunities in commercial satellite services, space commercial transportation services, space tourism, direct-to-home television, GPS telecommunications, electronics, technical marketing, electronics instrumentation and defense technologies.

Assessment Procedures

Performance on the senior research or design project

Performance in individual courses

Acceptance rates into job market and/or graduate school