CaNoRockers back on campus

    Rocket scientists return from a trip to Norway.

    By Staff on November 3, 2017

    (EDMONTON) The Faculty of Engineering’s CaNoRock team has been playing catchup with their engineering classes since they returned from Norway’s Andøya Space Center a week and a half ago. But their experience on the Norwegian coast in October, learning about and launching a rocket, was worth the extra workload.

    Mechanical engineering students Callie Lissinna, Kinza Malik and Suey Fong, as well as engineering physics student Taryn Haluza-DeLay, comprised the university's first all-female CaNoRock team. All applicants had to send a resumé, a transcript, and a one-page essay on why they should be considered for the program. ISSET then selected students on the basis of several criteria. At Andøya, the U of A team joined about 20 other students from other institutions.

    CaNoRock is a partnership between the universities of Alberta, Oslo, Calgary and Saskatchewan, and Royal Military College, with the financial support of the Canadian Space Agency. Lissinna, a veteran of the AlbertaSat student club team, took a moment to answer some questions about the team’s journey.

    What is your biggest takeaway from your experience?

    I saw that—although rocket science is challenging, which we expected—when you and 20 other students are passionate about it, each difficulty the team faces just serves as fuel, pushing you to work harder to find a solution. Communal fascination is an excellent team motivator. Another big takeaway from the experience was how impactful educational outreach programs can be on students. Having been involved in AlbertaSat's educational outreach program for more than two years, visiting elementary and junior high schools to teach sessions about satellites and space, being on the receiving end of an outreach program from Andøya Space Centre reminded me how important it is for organizations to offer experiences to students to inspire the next generation. 

    What would you do differently, based on what you know now?

    In terms of building the rocket, I would have done more thorough testing on each sensor we built before integrating them into the rocket. Although we ran a couple basic tests on each of them and they all worked, we could have learned more from the data we collected during the rocket’s flight had we learned more about the sensors’ behaviour beforehand. In terms of the trip in general, if I went to CaNoRock again I would pack a scarf! It would have made standing outside in the Arctic at night to watch the aurora borealis a lot more comfortable.  

    In what way does this experience contribute to your development as an engineer?

    The type of procedural knowledge you get at CaNoRock cannot be taught in a pen-and-paper rocketry course. I'm lucky to have had hands-on instruction in practical skills like space-grade soldering to complement all the learning I do from a textbook in my regular courses. Getting your hands dirty is an important part of a well-rounded engineering education. 

    What does CaNoRock do besides launch a rocket?

    Being in the Andøya Space Center for seven days exposed me to many more aspects of space science and engineering than just rockets. We toured RADAR and LIDAR observatories, launched a high-altitude balloon, and got to attend great lectures about satellites and space telescopes.