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The Division of Engineering hosted its first full-day workshop series Thursday on micro-scale satellites called "ChipSats." The workshop brought together leading scientists from the field, professionals working in the aerospace industry and students interested in the new technology.

The focus of the workshop, which featured panel discussions and lectures, was to explore the prospects for a satellite that is no bigger than a fingernail, according to the engineering division's Web site. Ken Ramsley, a visiting investigator in the division of engineering, said this emerging technology is being researched by various institutions, including universities, laboratories across the country and NASA. "This workshop is an opportunity for the isolated groups to come together in the spirit of learning and sharing," he said.

This year's workshop is the second in a series of annual aerospace workshops organized by Ramsley and Adjunct Associate Professor of Engineering Rick Fleeter. The two consider themselves the "space men" of Brown engineering, Fleeter said. He said the workshop's purpose was to introduce the new technology to the University community.

"Many conferences in this field become advertisement shows," he said. "We wanted to create an experience where participants and specialists come in and put their heads together to investigate challenging questions and opportunities."

Besides attending panels, participants engaged in two hours of unstructured discussion and brainstorming on critical issues surrounding ChipSats. During the lunch break, undergraduate and graduate students had the opportunity to showcase their own projects to specialists in the industry and receive feedback.

"It's exciting to be able to see what's currently happening and hear the different opinions of what should happen in aerospace," said Vivette El Fawal, an engineering grad student, adding that she hoped the new technology "can lead elsewhere."

The event was well-attended by Brown students and students from other universities. The NASA Space Grant Consortia provided traveling funds for non-Brown students to attend the workshop, according to the engineering division's Web site. Students also had the chance to network with representatives of technology companies and institutes and discuss recruitment opportunities.

Fleeter said he was pleased with how the conference went. "A conference is like a party," he said. "This year we got a good mix, great weather and energy."




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