ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Tech Forms Space Science Research Group

Faculty researchers from ECE and aerospace and ocean engineering (AOE) are creating an interdisciplinary Space Science Research Group, with an $805,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Virginia Tech was one of only six universities nationwide selected to receive the NSF space science faculty development grant.

ECE’s Wayne Scales and Joseph Wang (AOE) are leading the initiative, which will involve hiring a new faculty member, developing a space science instrument laboratory, and creating a Ph.D. specialization in space science.

The department is currently seeking a new faculty member with expertise in experimental upper atmosphere space science, to complement existing Tech research efforts in theoretical and computational modeling of upper atmospheric space science phenomena.

The group will develop a laboratory for building scientific instruments to measure electrodynamic, chemical, and plasma physics processes that occur in the upper atmosphere.

With the increased space science research effort, the group plans to develop an interdisciplinary Ph.D. specialization in space science. Faculty members from ECE and AOE will jointly teach three new courses: Fundamentals of Space Science, Computational Modeling Techniques for Space Applications and Hardware Techniques for Space Applications. A pilot computational modeling course has already been developed and taught to a class of ECE and AOE students.

“This is a most appropriate time for us to strengthen our space science research efforts,” said Scales, the principal investigator. “Due to the strong emphasis in space exploration over the coming decades, the study of the charged upper atmosphere of the earth and other bodies in the solar system will become an even more relevant and vibrant research area. This field has broad practical applications to communication and navigation systems, power systems, spacecraft environmental interactions and advanced spacecraft propulsion systems. We are in close proximity to a number of leading space science facilities and are strongly supported by our alumni in space technology fields which are both important advantages.”