Stephan

About Stephan

Senior

Aerospace Engineering

Career Goals: To establish a career with NASA
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I was recommended by a colleague about Embry-Riddle. He mentioned that the institute has the number one aerospace engineering program in the nation.

May 2010

It is unbelievable that I have already finished my first year here at Embry-Riddle. It seems each year goes by faster and faster. After attending Rochester Institute of Technology for two years and now Embry-Riddle for one year, I finally caught hold of something, a dream that has inspired me, to take a chance, a leap of faith perhaps, to try something new and challenging.

I have lots planned for this summer break which I am anxious to get underway. I am getting involved with a team of students to formulate a research and design experiment for NASA’s Microgravity Competition. It will be an awesome opportunity to try and earn a spot in the contest which will enable us to fly our experiment onboard NASA’s Reduced Gravity Aircraft, aka “Weightless Wonder”, or better known as “The Vomit Comet”. I have seen pictures, videos, and even heard from people who have actually experienced the 0g sensation. Now I might have the chance to experience it myself!

I am still waiting to hear how well I placed in the NASA Art Contest. Judging is supposed to commence next month and my patience is diminishing as I wait to hear the results! I received honorable mention last year so I am hoping I improved this year.

The other activity I have planned for is to develop a website featuring a collection of my 3D models and digital art. A big hobby of mine is learning how to use various 3D software applications to design random things. I was looking over my previous journal postings as I thought I mentioned this already once but I guess I did not. A few years back I had started a website, Mammoth Pictures, to share my work. As I got more involved with my studies, the less time I spent on web development. So, I am going to give it another attempt, this time though with the help of a friend. The new website, Virtual Aerospace, will feature 3D models of aircraft and spacecraft along with digital space art. I am really excited to be working on it with another colleague from school and the site should be fully available in the upcoming weeks.

This will be my final sign off for this year. I hope you have learned something from reading my monthly journal whether it be something about the school or a certain experience that I have shared. I enjoyed hearing from some of you throughout the year and if there are any questions regarding the campus or anything relating to the Aerospace Engineering program here at Embry-Riddle, I will be more than willing to answer back. You may contact me via e-mail at wlodarcs@my.erau.edu I look forward to hearing from you!

As always, you can continue to follow me throughout the summer break on my blog, Working My Way into Space. It is great to look back now after this year and see how much I have accomplished… the experience thus far has been phenomenal and there is plenty more to come!

Until then, see you out there!

April 2010

There is no better way to wake up on a Monday morning than with a shuttle launch in your own backyard. Space shuttle Discovery blasted its way into orbit on a mission to rendezvous with the International Space Station. I rode down with some friends to a dock over the beach in New Smyrna and had a great view of the pre-dawn launch. We were fortunate to be looking up at the moon when we started to see this tremendous glow in the sky. I thought at first it was Venus but then realized the planet was only starting to rise above the horizon. Also, planets do not streak across the sky so rapidly and I figured that the only object that could be glowing brighter than Venus and traveling that fast was the ISS. Sure enough, it was the ISS and some photographer sent in an image on NASA’s website and captured the station transiting the Moon.

Seeing a shuttle launch is one thing, but that morning had it all. The moon was glowing, the sun just peaking over the horizon, Venus gleaming in the distance, and the ISS flying by. This will forever be embedded into my memory!

Remember the design competition I was entering? Well, I uploaded my submission and since registration is now over, I can release to you my entire design project. I am satisfied with my work, but then again, I definitely think there is more I can improve on. But I will not get into details about it. They say ‘you’ are your own worst critic and so we will leave it at that. I call it “Magnificent Desolation” in which I stated in the description:

‘Humans are the most curious species on this planet and space has allowed us to apply that curiosity. It is part of our nature to explore the unknown, to expand our capabilities and technology, and to inspire the next generation to disprove the meaning of the word impossible.’

You might not be able to see the two people in the window the one lunar capsule (Hint: I took pictures of myself pointing and typing on a keyboard and then composited the shots into the scene!) You can visit my online blog to see a larger version of the image.

I will wrap it up here for now. There are only a few more weeks until this year comes to an end and I could not be more pleased with my first year at Embry-Riddle. Until then, see you out there!

March 2010

Spring Break! Here’s a recap of what I did during my week off from classes…

I ventured down to Orlando with a few friends and we went to Universal Studios for a few days! What a blast! I always wanted to go to Disney World and Universal Studios since I was a kid. My family and I went to Disney when I was about three but I do not remember the experience all that well. It was only two years ago when both my parents and my sister could all have the time off from work and me from college (RIT) to go to Disney. And now, this past week I was finally able to go to Universal Studios. I have always been a big fan of amusement parks as they take you away from all your worries in the world and they make you to feel like a kid again.

I tend to forget that I am 1200 miles away from home, soaking it up in the sun, going to the beach, and I have only an hour’s drive to Universal Studios. It’s a whole new atmosphere down here in Florida and my mind sometimes forgets where I am really at…

To my family, I wish you all could have been here!

When I was not relaxing outside, I spent the rest of my time working on my NASA competition projects and created a few digital space art images. Here is just one picture I designed over the break.

Now being that Spring Break has come to an end, I must begin reorganizing myself for classes and complete some homework that I purposely disregarded :o)

Until then… See you out there!

February 2010

This past week, I received the wonderful chance to meet Homer Hickam! If you have seen the movie, October Sky, or have read the book, Rocket Boys, then you know Homer and his inspirational and extraordinary life story. He visited the Embry-Riddle campus to talk about his upbringing, his dreams of becoming a rocket scientist, and his life as a NASA engineer. It was an honor and privilege to be in his presence and have the great opportunity to meet him!

“So, I say to you students of Embry-Riddle, don’t be afraid and please don’t walk away from a career in aerospace. The nation is depending on you to pry from the tiller of space the hands of those who don’t understand what its promise means. The nation is depending on you to rebuild from the wreckage that our present leaders may cause. The nation is depending on you to bring the vigor of youth to aging bureaucracies and to make them all new and bright again. This you can do, this you must do, and this old rocket boy is certain you will do. Now go forth and make me proud.” ~ Homer H. Hickam

The STS-130 crew of space shuttle Endeavour returned home last night (2/21) wrapping up a successful 13 day mission to the International Space Station. Endeavour travelled more than 5.7 million miles and has given ISS crew members a backyard view of our extraordinary planet. Endeavour has one flight remaining before being decommissioned and only four total shuttle flights remain before the program retires.

There is much more to come in the upcoming months, but those stories I will hold for next time. Until then, see you out there!

February 2010

This month lead to a surprising announcement involving the next era of space exploration. The Constellation program, which proposed taking humans beyond low-Earth-orbit and returning back to the moon, was officially cancelled by President Obama at the beginning of this month. So what’s next for the new decade? No one is for certain what our next destination will be or when we will return to the lunar surface, let alone low-Earth-orbit. Those of you who follow along with all the space news are most likely familiar with Obama’s new proposal. If you are interested in finding out more, I wrote up a post, NASA’s New Future, on my online blog with my thoughts on the subject along with a few website links that give informative outlines and analysis regarding the newly imposed budget. I’ll end here on this subject before I start to rant on about this matter.

This semester is going extremely well thus far. I’ve become more involved with campus clubs and out of class projects. It’s demanding but nonetheless a blast. This past week, ERPL (Experimental Rocket Propulsion Lab), one club that I am a member of, performed a hydro-burst test on a liquid propelled rocket engine. Hydro-burst is a type of test which determines the amount of pressure an object can withstand. Basically, the rocket engine is filled up with water and sealed off to a pump. This pump steadily increases the amount of pressure buildup on the engine and will keep increasing until the pressure is too great. Thus, the end result is a rupture or ‘burst’ in the engine.

I like to conclude with the way I started out my Monday morning today (February 8). I woke up at 3:55AM this morning and headed out to the campus flight line to see another beautiful shuttle launch. An Embry-Riddle Alumnus and five other astronauts hitched a ride on space shuttle Endeavour (STS-130) for a two week mission to the International Space Station. I can’t describe the emotional impact it has on me; it is an overwhelming experience that I wish everyone could watch. You see this brilliant orange glow spread over the Florida horizon and you know there are people on board that are heading to another world beyond our own. It is truly astounding and even though humans have being doing this for more than 50 years, it never gets old. One of my friends recorded the launch and put together an awesome video. I invite you all to watch and get a glimpse of this awesome sight that lit the early morning sky: STS-130 Launch

Until then folks, see you out there!

January 2010

This weekend was quite unusual and entertaining… I was amongst several students chosen to participate in Embry-Riddle’s Emerging Leaders Program. All of us were elected by our engineering professors to take part in the event. The retreat allowed for us to learn the variety of roles and responsibilities a leader possesses and explore the different behavioral relationships and styles from which leadership derives. Aside from leadership, we also defined our current goals and dreams along with solutions to the obstacles that we were likely to face.

I think I learned more about myself this week than I have since my freshmen year at RIT. I guess it is events like these that allow for self-reflection where normally you do not get asked such questions pertaining to your life dreams. It is interesting to share your thoughts with people and then realize how many similarities you share with one another. I can recall being at RIT, always talking about outer space and no one really acknowledged any remarks. But here at ERAU, I am surrounded by it and it sure is a fascinating feeling. I’m not quite sure how to put it into words. I am always imagining that ultimate day, the day when I am on the wings of a legacy heading towards the heavens. And now I start to think how fortunate I would be to share in that experience with a few of my colleagues who have the same desires.

Perhaps I’m getting deeper into my emotions than I expected to when I started writing this. Perhaps my mind is trying to simply state that I am in high spirits after a weekend filled with unyielding thoughts. I can recall two year’s back of only dreaming of such adventures. But here I am now actually living it.

Until next time, see you out there!

December 2009

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and is ready for the new year! I know I am! It was great to be reunited with my family and friends. I turned the big two-one on the 22nd but I definitely do not feel any older. I was anxious to get back to Daytona as I prefer the warmer climate but upon returning to the campus, I knew I was in for a surprise. The entire country is in deep freeze. Good thing it is starting to break up and we will be getting back into the sixties and seventies by the end of this week!

Over the break, I began my two NASA competition projects. I’m almost finished with one of the competitions, which is the same one I competed in last year. This particular contest calls for students to either hand draw or digitally create an artistic render of what they depict life and work on the moon will be like in 2050. This year’s render is going to be more futuristic and imaginative than last year’s entry which was based on already developed technologies and concepts. While I can’t reveal much of my work yet, I will be uploading a hi-resolution image after the deadline ends which is in just a few months.

The other competition is to construct and design tools that can be used by both astronauts and robotics to aid in the exploration of the moon. This will require much of my focus as I have to come up with the design as well to document my research and write a report. Again, more on my progress will be delivered in the upcoming months when I’m nearing the deadline for completion.

On top of that, I updated my resume, gathered my transcripts, and wrote essay responses to apply for my first internship opportunity with NASA! I’ll be sending this out shortly and I will be keeping my fingers crossed! The only thing I can do is wait to hear back.

I enjoyed my time off but it is nice to be back in the swing of things. Much more to come as my second semester unfolds. Until then, see you out there!

November, 2009

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! It was a different experience not being able to travel home for the break. I definitely missed home but I was able to have a nice dinner here on campus with some of my friends. I’m still not fully adjusted to the weather. It’s almost December and the weather is still above 70°. I know for sure, that I am going to be in a rude awakening when I return to New York. That reminds me, there is less than 2 weeks before winter break and the finishing of my first semester at Embry-Riddle!

Just before break, I finished up a group project in which we had to design an aircraft that would be able to carry a specified satellite payload anywhere in the United States. The payload is based on a previous group project that was completed back in October. I had a great time with that one because we had to design a launch vehicle from the ground up that would be able to place a satellite into a 200 nautical mile orbit.

The only tasks left to do are to finish up my final project for another engineering class. One more report for my communications course, and then study hard for my physics and calculus exams. Then I will be set to take a much needed vacation, home!

Another few exciting events took place within the past two weeks. I witnessed the launch of space shuttle Atlantis (STS-129)! As I stated earlier, I had class during that time, but my physics professor took us outside to view the launch. In my opinion, day launches are more exciting as I am able to view the launch vehicle in my binoculars. I was able to see Atlantis and its three main engines still firing away, well after SRB separation!

I also stated that an Atlas V was slated for liftoff a few days prior to the shuttle launch but it was scrubbed. However, a week later, the launch was rescheduled and liftoff was scheduled for 12:54AM on Monday the 23rd. The launch kept getting pushed back though due to heavy wind shears above the launch pad. The worst part of waiting to see if the launch would even take place within the given launch window was that I had an 8AM class that same morning. Some say you see one launch, you’ve seen them all, but not for me. I get really excited for any launch and I remained hopeful that a liftoff would occur. At precisely 1:51AM, mission managers gave the go for launch and at 1:55AM, the Atlas V soared into deep space! A few of my friends were outside with me who were also anxiously awaiting the launch. I assured them there would be a liftoff and fortunately there was. One of my colleagues was able to snap an awesome time lapse photo of the rocket’s ascent. 60 miles from the launch site and the view never gets old.

It’s been a unique experience thus far. I never imagined being 1,200 miles away from home let alone seeing the numerous launches occur at the Kennedy Space Center. Two years ago, I was instilled with a dream, a dream that one day I can be one of the few who have the chance to embark on the greatest adventure that mankind has ever known. Here I am now, grateful and fortunate to be here in Florida chasing down the journey of my lifetime. The work has been very challenging and I am very proud of what I have accomplished thus far.

See you out there!

November, 2009

The last few weeks have been filled with numerous space events. One of the most exciting thus far that I was able to witness was the test flight of the Ares I-X launch vehicle. If you are unaware, the Constellation Program will continue to launch humans into low earth orbit and furthermore, journey back to the Moon and ultimately onto Mars. The Ares I-X test flight marked the beginning of a new era in space pioneering. There were a few clouds near the horizon that were blocking the first portion of the ascent stage but after a minute into the flight, I was able to see the rocket trail. It is a remarkable feeling being able to view this new vehicle, practically the same height as the Saturn V rocket, and it will eventually carry humans back to the Moon and someday onto Mars. Just spectacular!

There will also be an Atlas V launch as well as an upcoming shuttle mission, STS-129, that will be occurring at the end of this week and the beginning of next week. I am most likely going to head down to Titusville this weekend with a few friends to view the Atlas launch but as for the space shuttle, I’ll be in class Monday afternoon. I’ll see if my professor can excuse me for a few minutes so that I can go out and take a peek at the launch.

Embry-Riddle also held an amateur radio contact with fellow astronaut and ERAU alumna, Nicole Stott. She is on board the International Space Station serving as flight engineer for expeditions 20 and 21. Students were able to submit questions but because of time restraints not everyone got their questions selected for the opportunity to speak with Nicole. Nichole stated that she really wanted to elaborate on some of her answers but again, there wasn’t enough time to do so. Supposedly, she will be visiting the campus after she returns to Earth, and will be sharing her experiences of her 3 month stay aboard the station. That I cannot wait for!

October, 2009

If you can recall from my last post, I wanted to share my first space shuttle launch experience. One of the coolest things about being here at Embry-Riddle is that you are only 60 miles from the cape and you are able to see every launch from campus so long as it’s not cloudy. Back in August, I witnessed the launch of space shuttle Discovery (STS – 128). After liftoff, I was totally speechless. It’s an event that will be forever embedded into my mind. To be honest, I was so overwhelmed and amazed by the event that I got all teary eyed. To top it off, Nicole Stott, who graduated here from Embry-Riddle, was onboard making her way into space for the first time. I will surely never forget that night.

There was also a Delta II launch that occurred back in the beginning of September. The launch wasn’t publicized but I was fortunate enough to tune into Spaceflight Now’s live webcast a few hours in advance. I rounded up a few of my friends that day and we headed towards the south side of campus to view the launch. It was one thing to be able to see the shuttle liftoff from about 7 miles from the pad but even being 60 miles out, it’s still an epic sight.

Last year, I entered an art competition that was sponsored by NASA. Recently I received my certificate in the mail for making honorable mention in the contest. It’s the first time I have ever had an official document from NASA with my name on it! I plan to re-enter this year’s competition hoping to improve on my 3D design/render. I have always had a knack for 3D computer animation and graphics. As a hobby of mine, I teach myself various 3D software applications to create just about anything my mind can think of. The work can be quite tedious but nonetheless, I always enjoy it. You can view some of my work on my website. It hasn’t been updated since the beginning of this year, but it has been on my to-do list for quite some time now. I do plan to post more work in the near future when time allows from my studies here at Embry. Here is my certificate and design project from this past year’s NASA art competition.

Well it’s back to more work and studying. I’ll be writing again real soon but until then, I will continue on with my journey of working my way into space. See you out there!