Three West Island Concordia students are on cloud nine since their victory at the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC). The news was announced on Sept. 29 in Ottawa at a gala marking the 50th anniversary of the launch of Alouette, the first Canadian communications satellite.
Twenty-seven-year-old Shawn Stoute from Pierrefonds, 28-year-old Alex Potapov who works in Ste. Anne de Bellevue and 24-year-old Eric Chan from Dollard des Ormeaux were part of a core team of about 10 people within a larger support group of around 40 students who developed a satellite that's going to be launched into space in 2013.
Chan worked on the software team, Potapov was the mechanical team leader while Stoute took care of hardware aspect of the computer system inside the satellite.
The nationwide competition was challenging university students to design an innovative satellite. After two years of hard work, the team of Space Concordia was declared champion and will soon, thanks to its triumph, see the orbiting of the satellite.
"I'm very happy that we did this competition because it gives a lot of awareness, not only for university students to get involved but also college and high school students. It just shows that there is a lot of fun things in the space engineering world. I was very grateful to be a part of this competition," said Stoute.
"I never thought that when I'd come to university that I would be this close to an actual satellite and actually work on it. It's always something you see on TV or in a museum," said Chan.
Concordia's satellite will be launched into orbit in 2013 to conduct scientific research in an area known as 'South Atlantic Anomaly.' The intense radiation zone located above South America has long been the source of strange recordings and system failures in unmanned spacecraft.
"Our satellite will collect radiation data from this South Atlantic Anomaly. We bring this data down to earth and we're able to pass it on to scientists who want to study it and make correlations to the space weather. We'll try to see if the radiation in the South Atlantic Anomaly increases as a function of solar activity. This can play a pretty important for scientists to help them understand what's happening just outside our skies," Potapov said.
The CSDC was sponsored by the Canadian satellite manufacturer Geocentrix, whose president, Larry Reeves, followed the progress closely. "The energy, dedication and skills demonstrated by the teams have been incredibly rewarding. Students showed a genuine enthusiasm for the competition and the experience they have gained, "he said.
The Concordia team beat competitors from all regions of Canada, including some from the best faculties and engineering schools like Carleton, Queen's, the University of British Columbia and the Royal Military College of Canada.