Workforce Development


Empowered by the Alabama CubeSat Initiative, ABEX provides growth opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students unavailable through most Senior Design or competition research programs. Specifically, ABEX improves (1) Geographically disperse workforce collaboration common to modern industry, (2) Modeling & Simulation tool use specific to both subsystem development and inter-team collaboration, (3) Communication skills to both internal participants and external stakeholders, (4) High-quality documentation ability, (5) Education on controlled-access materials.

  • 1

    ABEX teams exist around the state of Alabama and found the adaptation to pandemic life to be a natural transition. Inter-team communication is facilitated through a robust Slack workspace, enterprise-level Zoom, and a variety of file storage and project management environments such as Git, Docker, Box, and Google Drive for various, well-defined purposes. Students are provided access to Amazon Web Services platforms for controlled-access file transfer and centralized onboarding.

  • 2

    Each ABEX team utilizes Modeling & Simulation platforms individualized for their purposes; an overview of the platforms for each team can be found at their subsystem page. Computer-Aided Design, Finite Element Analysis, electrical routing, and computational analysis are small parts of what ABEX students can do.

  • 3

    Internally, ABEX teams must report status updates at biweekly all-hands meetings with strict agendas, and reports are often created and delivered by undergraduate students. Externally, all ABEX students present either a technical or design review to a panel of Subject Matter Experts (SME) at the end of each Design Analysis Cycle (DAC-2). SMEs come from NASA, JPL, and the Industry Collaboration Board. In DAC-2, the ABEX Flight Software team presented to the F Prime working group who developed the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter software, an experience they expressed will be remembered for the rest of their lives.

  • 4

    The end of every DAC is a documentation phase, and ABEX students understand the importance of rigorous documentation. ABEX students document subsystem composition, behavior, operation, development processes, and analysis concepts in Development & Integration Plans, Analysis Plans, Verification Activity Reports, and various diagrams provided to the Systems Engineering team for inclusion into the Integrated Systems Model, a crowning achievement for Model-Based Systems Engineering.

  • 5

    ABEX deals with some Export Administration Regulations (EAR) material, but fortunately does not handle International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) or Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). However, all ABEX students are educated on the significance of each category and the differences between them so that they can recognize and handle controlled-access materials appropriately adherent to all Technology Control Plans.