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Andrew Rhodes
Teaching Assistant Professor


MAE 460: Automatic Controls

MAE 460 Book Cover

This course covers the basic modeling, analysis, and design of automatic control systems. Automatic control is integrated into everyday life, from elevators, HVAC, electrical circuits, and more. Complex systems are modeled using transfer functions, which relate how an input affects the system output response. Systems analysis characterizes the response attributes such as rise time, settling time, and steady state error. Simple closed loop controllers – such as phase lead or proportional integral – are designed to achieve specific response characteristics.

MAE 466: Spacecraft Dynamics

MAE 466 Syllabus

Both spacecraft and aircraft follow the same rules from Euler’s Equation of Motion. However, most spacecraft do so in the presence of gravity and in the absence of atmospheric forces. Spacecraft dynamics introduces students to the topic of spacecraft attitude motion and its behavior in torque and torque-free environments. Students learn numerous attitude representations including Euler angles, direction cosine matrix, axis-angle, and quaternions. Attitude stabilization is discussed using the passive gravity gradient stabilization, and active methods of reaction wheels.

MAE 476: Space Flight and Systems

MAE 476 Syllabus

MAE 476 Book Cover

This course covers the topics of two-body orbital mechanics while also introducing students to the international, political, and professional entities of spacecraft operation. The two-body problem is a basic representation of the governing rules for how spacecraft orbit a central body such as Earth, and how planets orbit the Sun. Topics include launch windows and timing, coplanar and non-coplanar orbital maneuvers, and interplanetary travel using the patched conic method. Students are also introduced to Systems Tool Kit (STK) software from Ansys to help visualize and implement spacecraft orbits.

MAE 484: Spacecraft Propulsion

MAE 484 Syllabus

MAE 484 Book Propulsion

Spacecraft propulsion introduces students to many of the fundamental concepts of designing two types of spacecraft propulsion systems: launch vehicles and in-orbit vehicles. Launch vehicles are often staged for improved performance, which jettison empty propellant containers to reduce mass. Students discuss parallel and series staging and numerical implement launch vehicle trajectories. Rocket engine design heavily depends on thermodynamics and chemistry. Thermochemistry is used to evaluate the amount of thermal energy released in the combustion of propellants. Thermodynamics controls how the thermal gases expand through a de Laval nozzle. Students are introduced to contemporary and historic space launch vehicles.

MAE 486/487: Spacecraft Design 1/2

MAE 487 Book Cover

The design of spacecraft necessitates a multidisciplinary team-based approach. Students are introduced to the government and industry practices of spacecraft design. Students design a spacecraft to meet the mission requirements following common design and analysis techniques. Common spacecraft subsystems are designed, including power, propulsion, thermal, structural, orbital mechanics and attitude dynamics, avionics and software, human interaction, and management. Design considers risk analysis, budget constraints, schedule, and engineering trade studies. Students use design tools such as Gantt charts, PERT Charts, and Analytic Hierarchy Process. Various software tools are used to aid in design and development including SolidWorks, MATLAB, and STK. Students are expected to collaborate and keep excellent documentation of work using tools such as Google Drive, One Drive, in-class Wikipedia page, and Discord. A physical prototype is constructed in the Spring semester to demonstrate capabilities. Students submit designs and compete in national competitions such as RASC-AL.