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Project High Flight

Project High Flight

Partners

Project High Flight sponsors

Industry and government collaborators on Project High Flight include L-3 Communications, NASA, Ohio Space Grant Consortium, Project Greenman, USAF Research Laboratory, and Ohio Aerospace Institute.

Crowds gather for launch

Members of Project High Flight launch their first high altitude balloon behind Miami's engineering complex.

Undergraduate research provides a launch pad for exploring space

What started as a mission to launch high altitude balloons to the edge of outer space has also turned into a quest to understand the inner workings of creativity.

Students from all backgrounds come together in Project High Flight, an interdisciplinary endeavor to develop a remote-controlled, long duration, high altitude balloon designed to fly missions to the edge of space. High Flight's focus, however, is more than just a technical one.

Working closely with Bob Setlock in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, team members are encouraged to think creatively about scientific mysteries and to propose unorthodox solutions to real-world problems.

"The goal of the project is to help students develop their creative aspect. Sometimes in school work, our divergent thinking skills are left to atrophy. I want students to consciously think about and to develop their creativity," Setlock explained.

Problem-solvers unite

With an enhanced understanding of creativity, Setlock and his student researchers believe we can formulate better answers to complex questions:

  • Can high altitude balloons replace inefficient satellite technology?
  • Can creative exercises help convince middle school and high school students to pursue the STEM (an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields?
  • How does altitude affect medicine dispersal?
  • Did the building blocks of life travel to Earth through space?

That's why students from all majors are encouraged to join the project. "It lets me work with other students and not just those in my discipline. We work with people from all different majors and what has surprised me the most is what I've learned from them. It's interesting to see us all come together," said Emma Kunimoto, a mechanical engineering major.

Jacqueline Vance, a middle childhood education major, had the same surprise upon joining the team. "It's not all engineering students! It's cool to see how everybody is involved." She also values the fact that Bob Setlock allows the students to lead Project High Flight. "This is something we (the students) are doing. It's ours!"

For Setlock, student leadership is key to the project. "When students take ownership of it, they have an honest to goodness passion for it. Students will give more of themselves and get more out of it. It's more rewarding to them."

Up, up, and away!

Project High Flight's first launch was on April 22, 2012—an unseasonably cold, windy, and gray day in Oxford. Mechanical engineering major, Joey Banks recalled the 24 hours before the first launch as "exciting but definitely nerve wracking." Joey and his teammates carried the balloon and its payload outside to the patio behind Miami's engineering complex.

"I really thought that balloon was going to pull me away," said Nikki Fisher, engineering management and business economics double-major. On cue, the balloon was released and hoisted up its payload quickly into the swirling clouds amid shouts of joy and triumph. "I felt a sense of pride. I felt happy to be there with everybody I worked with. I know I started cheering," added Nikki.

It's that sense of camaraderie and accomplishment that bonds these students from diverse academic backgrounds. It's the uniqueness of perspective that each student brings to the team that allows them to connect creative concepts to technical procedures. Ultimately, it's the sheer wonder of exploring outer space that brings students to Project High Flight. Perhaps mechanical engineering major Scott Martin summed it up best, "I would rather do High Flight than just about anything else. High Flight is the center of what I do."

View the video below to see the students in action. (Audio described version available at http://youtu.be/_rUzdNR_P4s.)

Written by Jon Simon, University Communications and Marketing

Published April 2013


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Creativity workshop

Creativity workshop

Lab work

Lab work

At NASA

At NASA

PHF mission 20 feet

PHF mission 20 feet

PHF mission 100 feet

PHF mission 100 feet

PHF mission 500 feet

PHF mission 500 feet

PHF mission 100,000 feet

PHF mission 100,000 feet

Partners

Project High Flight sponsors

Industry and government collaborators on Project High Flight include L-3 Communications, NASA, Ohio Space Grant Consortium, Project Greenman, USAF Research Laboratory, and Ohio Aerospace Institute.

Locations
Luxembourg
West Chester
Middletown
Hamilton
Oxford
  • Luxembourg
    Luxembourg

    John E. Dolibois European Center, Luxembourg

    One of Miami's oldest continuous study abroad programs, the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center (MUDEC) in Luxembourg offers students the opportunity to enroll in Miami classes taught by European-based and Ohio-based Miami faculty. Students enjoy a unique combination of first-class academics, engagement in the local community, and various faculty-guided and independent travel opportunities.

    Contact and emergency information for the Luxembourg Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    Château de Differdange
    1, Impasse du Château
    L-4524 Differdange
    Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
    luxembourg@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/luxembourg

    217-222 MacMillan Hall
    531 E. Spring Street
    Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA

    Directions

    Main Operator: 011-352-582222-1
    Oxford-based Coordinator: 513-529-5050
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • West Chester
    West Chester

    Voice of America Learning Center

    Located midway between Cincinnati and Dayton along I-75, the Voice of America Learning Center (VOALC) offers undergraduate and graduate courses and programs drawn from Miami's Regional and Oxford campuses. Home to Miami's MBA program, the Learning Center provides ready access to graduate programs for area educators and courses leading to the BIS degree for undergraduates.

    Contact and emergency information for the Voice of America Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    7847 VOA Park Dr.
    (Corner of VOA Park Dr. and Cox Rd.)
    West Chester, OH 45069
     
    voalc@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/voalc

    Printable Floor Plan
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-895-8862
    (From Middletown) 513-217-8862
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Middletown
    Middletown

    Middletown Regional Campus

    Nestled on 141 acres near I-75, Miami University Middletown offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Nearby Greentree Health Science Academy immerses Miami's nursing and health information technology students in the health care experience while taking classes.

    Contact and emergency information for the Middletown Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

     4200 N. University Blvd.
    Middletown, OH 45042
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-727-3200
    (Toll-free) 1-86-MIAMI-MID
    Office of Admission: 513-727-3216
    Campus Status Line: 513-727-3477
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Hamilton
    Hamilton

    Hamilton Regional Campus

    A compact, friendly, commuter campus, Miami Hamilton offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Small class sizes, on-site child care, and flexible scheduling make Miami Hamilton attractive to students at all stages of life and career.

    Contact and emergency information for the Hamilton Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    1601 University Blvd.
    Hamilton, OH 45011
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-785-3000
    Office of Admission: 513-785-3111
    Campus Status Line: 513-785-3077
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Oxford
    Oxford

    Miami University, Oxford Ohio

    Nationally recognized as one of the most outstanding undergraduate institutions, Miami University is a public university located in Oxford, Ohio. With a student body of 16,000, Miami effectively combines a wide range of strong academic programs with faculty who love to teach and the personal attention ordinarily found only at much smaller institutions.

    Contact and emergency information for the Oxford Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    501 E. High St.
    Oxford, OH 45056

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-529-1809
    Office of Admission: 513-529-2531
    Vine Hotline: 513-529-6400
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency