Learning Laboratories of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The Space Systems Engineering Laboratory currently supports two primary purposes:

  1. To facilitate the design and fabrication of small spacecraft to be placed into Earth orbit. The Missouri Satellite team (M-SAT) that uses this lab primarily includes graduate students and those in the AE 4790/4791 senior spacecraft design class.  The M-SAT Team collaborates with experts off campus including NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the Air Force Research Lab and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  2. To support the overall astronautics curriculum through individual experiments that focus on one or more disciplines of spaceflight, including structures, propulsion, thermal, attitude, power, orbit determination/tracking, etc.

In support of the spacecraft design and fabrication activity, various equipment, tooling, and computers have been placed into the lab and are listed in Appendix C. A ground station has also been developed and is operational within the lab.  Images of the regional Missouri area, including visible and infrared spectra, can be down linked from various spacecraft.  The ground station is used to demonstrate concepts related to spacecraft communications, orbit determination, satellite tracking, remote sensing, and data analysis. The lab currently supports six courses in the AE curriculum including AE - 2790 Introduction to Spacecraft Design, AE 3613 - Aerospace Mechanics I, AE 5614 – Spaceflight Mechanics, AE 4790 - Spacecraft Design I, AE 4791 - Spacecraft Design II, and AE 6614 - Advanced Astrodynamics.


Lab space used for AE 2790; outfitted for basic soldering and BalloonSAT construction. On occasion space sequence senior design students use this area as well in the fall semester for laying out pieces of the different M-SAT projects, but the primary use of this room is for AE 2790 and BalloonSAT outreach.

A modal wing experiment consists of a small aircraft wing (From a BD5 kit aircraft) which is excited by a shaker system.  The experiment is designed to examine the natural frequencies of the wing, and also by moving an accelerometer around the wing, the mode shape of the vibration (between 10 and 130 hz) is also analyzed.  An aircraft wing, a shaker, a spectrum analyzer, an oscilloscope and accelerometers are the major components of this experiment.  An experiment in AE 4882 uses a composite wing in order to study static loading. A point load is applied at one location on the wing and the load distribution is measured by strain gauges attached at a large number of points on the wing surface. The data are acquired and analyzed with appropriate software.

The Fabrication Lab provides students with access to smaller power tools such as drill presses, band saws, sanders, and a small lathe for fabrication of various parts for projects.  The lab is extensively used for design projects in AE 4781 and ME 2761, student-designed experiments in ME 4840 and ME 4842, and developing prototypes in the ME capstone design projects.

This tunnel is a closed circuit tunnel equipped with a 32"x48"rectangular test section and is capable of producing flow speeds up to 200 mph. The tunnel is equipped with a computer station, data acquisition system, and various flow measurement equipment. The tunnel and supporting infrastructure has been extensively refurbished since 2015 by installing a new settling chamber, contraction section and a modular test section.

The department has the capability for creating parts utilizing additive manufacturing.  Three different machines are available; selection depends upon part size and material.  Students in design groups, competition teams and design courses have access to parts created on these machines by submitting STL format files to the technical shop who will then send it to the machines for production.  Student groups and projects are charged to cover the cost of consumables.  The department covers the overhead costs, including the annual maintenance agreements. 

This lab includes an instructional machine shop for ME 2653 Manufacturing Processes. The lab includes basic machine shop equipment including lathes, mills, shaper, band saws, and grinders.  Welding and casting labs are conducted in the facilities of the Metallurgical Engineering program, with major equipment shown in Appendix C. We are currently working toward a modernization of the machine shop associated with the undergraduate ME 2653 Manufacturing course.  The goal is to replace many of the aging manual lathes and mills with CNC equipment and additive manufacturing equipment.  This is to be coordinated with implementation of a similar lab in Springfield for the cooperative program at Missouri State University.

The Instrumentation Lab is used primarily for ME 4840 Mechanical Instrumentation and includes data acquisition equipment, basic equipment for electronics experiments, and basic instrumentation to measure most physical parameters.   The lab has gone through a significant improvement in the past few years including the addition of the Fluid Dynamics Facility and is undergoing an upgrade of several existing experiments, For spring 2021 the all new state of the art pressure measurement  and load measurement experiments were introduced and for Fall of 2021 the new rotating motion experiment will be installed. 

This lab houses a variety of experiments that provide students the opportunity to explore concepts and systems typically seen in mechanical engineering.  Experiment topics include pumps, vibrations, dynamic balancing, acoustics, heat conduction and convection.  Equipment for this lab is distributed throughout the department.  Various data acquisition equipment and instrumentation, as well as the Prototyping Lab and the Fabrication Lab, are available for the students to use in constructing experiments of their own design.

The ME 4480 Controls Lab course utilizes this lab, consisting of computers, software, PLCs and data acquisition equipment.

The lab primarily supports activities associated with ME 2653 Manufacturing along with the more advanced manufacturing courses.

This lab complements the Fabrication Lab with work tables and hand tools to be used for any student projects.