Setting up a Community of Practice for a University CubeSat Project

Lucy Berthoud, Kathryn Pugh, Mark Schenk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

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CubeSats were introduced by Robert Twiggs from Stanford University and Jordi PuigSuari from California Polytechnic as an educational project for engineering students. Their aim was to give students a practical experience of designing, building, testing and launching a real satellite. The CubeSat standard has since spread around the world and is now used not only by Universities, but also by space agencies and industry.
In previous work, the authors conducted a survey of 45 University teams on how best to set up and manage Cubesat projects. One issue raised by many respondents was the difficulty of passing information and expertise between successive cohorts of students. This makes developing a CubeSat at a University uniquely challenging; for instance, requirements may have been written, or a crucial design decision made, by a student who has since left the University. Another challenge is how to pass
information between students and staff in different departments. To overcome these challenges, a “Community of Practice” (CoP) approach is proposed here as a way of connecting a University CubeSat community and of encouraging better knowledge
management. This approach has not, to our knowledge, been used with a CubeSat project before.
The goal of this paper is firstly to describe how the University of Bristol CubeSat project was set up as a Community of Practice and secondly to evaluate the value of Community of Practice to the participants in a qualitative way, using the concept of cycles of value.
In this paper, the background section provides a review of the different areas relevant to this work: CubeSats, Communities of Practice and their evaluation, and Concurrent Design Facilities. The methodology section describes how the community was
established and how the evaluation interviews and survey were carried out. The results section is split into each of the cycles of value and discusses some lessons learned and recommendations for other multi-disciplinary and multi cohort student projects. The conclusions summarise the key points.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 46th SEFI Annual Conference 2018
Subtitle of host publicationCreativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Engineering Education Excellence, SEFI 2018
PublisherEuropean Society for Engineering Education (SEFI)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9782873520168
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018
Event46th SEFI Annual Conference 2018: Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Engineering Education Excellence - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 17 Sep 201821 Sep 2018


Conference46th SEFI Annual Conference 2018
Internet address

Structured keywords

  • Engineering Education Research Group


  • Community of Practice
  • Cubesat
  • Value creation

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