Presenter Information

Cassandra Chanen, University of Toronto Aerospace TeamFollow
Abhishek Nair, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Adyn Miles, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Annalisa Cognigni, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Benjamin Nero, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Bruno Almeida, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Brytni Richards, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Cameron Rodriguez, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Catherine Guo, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
David Maranto, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Dylan Vogel, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Emma Belhadfa, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Eric van Velzen, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Gabriel Sher, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Ian Bennett, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Ibrahim Pervez, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Jason Rock, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Ketan Vasudeva, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Khalil Damouni, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Mingde Yin, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Prachi K. Sukhnani, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Rima Uraiqat, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Rosalind Liang, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Samuel Looper, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Selena Liu, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Shiqi Xu, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Suraj Parasuram, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Timothy Yeung, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
William Ferrie, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Xi Lan, University of Toronto Aerospace Team
Yong Da Li, University of Toronto Aerospace Team

Session

Technical Poster Session 7: Education

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

The University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT) Space Systems Division is a fully student levy-funded, student-led undergraduate design team that develops CubeSats with research-oriented payloads. UTAT’s mission is to provide undergraduate students with unique opportunities to develop engineering design skills outside of the classroom, and therefore has a distinct focus on member growth and education. As an undergraduate student team, UTAT faces a unique set of challenges in onboarding members and maintaining a strong knowledge base on the team. These challenges include onboarding members with limited technical experience, equipping them with satellite design skills, and maintaining high interest levels among volunteer members with limited time to contribute. The team has implemented a wide range of strategies related to onboarding and member development over the past two years. Notable examples include hosting workshops and regular work sessions, and employing practice projects for technical skill development. This paper presents these practices in depth and evaluates their impacts using both quantitative and qualitative metrics of team success including retention rates, team demographic data, and individual perceptions of team dynamics. It also evaluates these practices against scientifically backed models, while evaluating the effectiveness of these models in the student team environment. Lessons learned include the importance of emphasizing a culture of inclusivity and psychological safety as well as utilizing workshops and skill-building modules both in the onboarding phase and throughout the year to generate and maintain interest in the team. The practices presented here are relevant and transferable to similar organizations including student teams, industry projects, and research initiatives.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 7th, 12:00 AM

Inspiring the Next Generation: Challenges and Strategies for Onboarding and Retention in an Undergraduate CubeSat Design Team

Utah State University, Logan, UT

The University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT) Space Systems Division is a fully student levy-funded, student-led undergraduate design team that develops CubeSats with research-oriented payloads. UTAT’s mission is to provide undergraduate students with unique opportunities to develop engineering design skills outside of the classroom, and therefore has a distinct focus on member growth and education. As an undergraduate student team, UTAT faces a unique set of challenges in onboarding members and maintaining a strong knowledge base on the team. These challenges include onboarding members with limited technical experience, equipping them with satellite design skills, and maintaining high interest levels among volunteer members with limited time to contribute. The team has implemented a wide range of strategies related to onboarding and member development over the past two years. Notable examples include hosting workshops and regular work sessions, and employing practice projects for technical skill development. This paper presents these practices in depth and evaluates their impacts using both quantitative and qualitative metrics of team success including retention rates, team demographic data, and individual perceptions of team dynamics. It also evaluates these practices against scientifically backed models, while evaluating the effectiveness of these models in the student team environment. Lessons learned include the importance of emphasizing a culture of inclusivity and psychological safety as well as utilizing workshops and skill-building modules both in the onboarding phase and throughout the year to generate and maintain interest in the team. The practices presented here are relevant and transferable to similar organizations including student teams, industry projects, and research initiatives.