ASGC director Dale Thomas, left, accepts a check from TriVector Services Inc. President Joey Shelton and Senior Vice President of the Civil Space Strategic Unit Marc Verhage.

Michael Mercier | UAH

A $5,000 donation from Huntsville aerospace engineering firm TriVector Services Inc. has boosted efforts by the Alabama Space Grant Consortium (ASGC) to design and build the first in a planned series of statewide collaborative cube satellites (CubeSats).

Trivector’s donation helped to sponsor a recent workshop about the project, which will carry a gamma-ray burst (GRB) detector to be placed in the vicinity of the moon to detect short gamma-ray bursts.

"TriVector’s generous donation helped to offset expenses associated with holding the Alabama Student CubeSat Workshop late last year," says Dr. Dale Thomas, who is the ASGC director as well as a professor and the eminent scholar in systems engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

"In addition to facility rental and food, there were travel expenses and also lodging expenses for participants from south Alabama. Thanks to TriVector and other Huntsville area sponsors, the ASGC was able to conduct the workshop without cutting other programs to offset the expenses."

Joey Shelton, TriVector president and co-founder, is a UAH alumnus (MS Engineering, 2001; PhD Engineering 2004).

"I benefited greatly from my time as a student at UAH," Shelton says. "Now, as business owner, I appreciate the opportunity to give back and see these students have their opportunity to succeed."

Also a UAH alumnus, TriVector Senior Vice President of the Civil Space Strategic Unit Marc Verhage agrees.

"As a master’s student in engineering, UAH provided me a great education that I can now use to give back as a local business leader to the future of our great engineering profession," Verhage says.

The ASGC workshop covered the CubeSat’s main payload and science, systems engineering, thermal protection and control, power systems, attitude determination and control, communication systems, and structures and deployment mechanisms. Academic and industry mentors spoke and coached those involved.

Based at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), ASGC member universities are Alabama A&M University, Auburn University, Tuskegee University, The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, UAH and University of South Alabama.

Proposed by Dr. Michael Briggs, assistant director of the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) and a principal research scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), the GRB detector CubeSat was selected from four ASGC member submissions by Dr. David Beale, ASGC campus director for Auburn University and the principal investigator for the Alabama CubeSat Initiative.

The collaborative effort is expected to involve more than 100 students from all seven universities during 2018-2019 academic year.


Dr. Dale Thomas

Jim Steele