21 May

WVU Tech’s High Altitude Research Project (HARP) near-space experiment will continue to soar with the recent receipt of a $20,000 Public Extension and Outreach Grant from the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium. Dr. James Cercone, professor and chair of the Computer Science Department, is excited about his success in obtaining this grant.

“HARP is an outgrowth from the Taylor University (Indiana) Near Space Program. It’s focused on developing a deployable system that’s specifically designed for tracking and recovery in the terrain of West Virginia,” says Cercone. “This grant will enable WVU Tech to continue to develop this project.”

During the fall of 2009, the Department of Computer Science created a team composed primarily of computer science and computer engineering students to begin work on a high-altitude balloon launch program. These fourteen students developed and designed a high altitude balloon to test the effectiveness of amateur radio tracking capabilities across West Virginia’s mountainous terrain.

The first flight originated at Barboursville Middle School as part of an outreach program and ended near Fairmont, West Virginia. During the flight a maximum altitude of over 15 miles was obtained.

“WVU Tech’s initial launch was a “proof of concept experiment” that was designed to test the effectiveness of amateur radio tracking capabilities across West Virginia’s mountainous terrain. After our successful December launch and recovery, we uncovered several opportunities, issues, and challenges. The NASA WV Space Grant will continue to give us new opportunities that include the obvious outreach potential for future STEM students,” Cercone adds.

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