Why you should meet with an Academic Advisor (and tips for a great first advising appointment)

ACC Academic Advisor with studentHave you meet with your academic advisor yet? Wondering why you should?

Academic advising is a way for you to get the guidance you need to set realistic academic goals and objectives. Your advisor will help you find the best path to meet your goals and keep you on track along the way. They’ll help you decide which classes to take and when to take them to make sure you are successful and that you are on the most efficient path to save you time and money. They can also help you explore opportunities within your major: internships, apprenticeships, and more.

Not sure what your goals are? Your advisor can help with this as well by helping you choose a pathway and determining the program that will best fit your interests and skills.

Or, if you need more help figuring our what career you might want to pursue, we also offer free Career and Transfer counseling right in the same office as Academic Advising. They can help you discover your ideal career based on your passions and interests. This will help you when working with your advisor to select the right program to get to your goals, whether that includes transferring to continue your education or beginning your career right after you graduate from ACC.

Ready to make an appointment with your academic advisor? At ACC we offer a few different options to meet your needs and schedule:

  • One-on-one appointments – for a more in-depth conversation, look into your goals and what you need to complete them, review DegreeCheck and major requirements and build a plan, complete and submit academic and financial aid appeals, connect to academic resources, major exploration, course registration, and transfer planning
  • Group registration sessions – for those just needing course scheduling assistance/guidance and to review DegreeCheck and major requirements
  • Phone or email appointments – for students who can’t make it to campus during advising hours, look into your goals and what you need to complete them, review DegreeCheck and major requirements and build a plan, complete and submit academic and financial aid appeals, connect to academic resources, major exploration, and transfer planning
  • Walk-in appointments – shorter appointments for help with registering for classes,  changing your major, or to address an immediate concern and schedule a follow-up appointment

How to get the most out of your advising session

  1. Think ahead – Think about what questions you have before you meet with your academic advisor and bring them with you along with relevant documents (transcripts, test scores, financial aid information)
  2. Problem solve – Discuss your educational successes and challenges and how to solve them
  3. Record – Write down what you discussed and the next steps to complete
  4. Participate – Ask a lot of questions!
  5. Plan – Leave your meeting with an action plan

We know you’ll learn a lot while meeting with your advisor. Don’t be afraid to follow-up with them afterwards to make sure you are on the right path and working toward your goals. Our advisors are here to help you Move Mountains and achieve your dreams. The earlier you meet with your advisor, the easier your path to success will become. Don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor today!

Construction on the ACC Littleton Campus

You may have noticed that it is a little noisy on ACC’s Littleton campus this summer. That’s because we’re making tons of improvements to enhance your education. Our 3rd floor is under construction and they are making a ton of progress!

Remember the science labs…

Science Labs before 1Science Labs before 2Science Labs before 3Or the student spaces on the 3rd floor…

3rd floor main building - student space 1 3rd floor main building - student space 2 3rd floor main building - student space 3These areas are being remodeled. We’re building brand new science labs for biology, chemistry, microbiology, mortuary science, medical laboratory technology, phlebotomy, anatomy and physiology, astronomy and more. These labs will include modern facilities and work spaces for students, not to mention nearby prep space, storage and more collaborative student work areas.

We will also be updating restrooms, a few offices and our student spaces. Here’s a look at the scope of the work area for this remodel.

ACC Littleton - main building - 3rd floor scope of workTo make all of this happen we need to make some noise and a bit of a mess. Check out our progress during the demolition phase of our remodel.

science lab - pre-demo - plastic wallsscience lab - pre-demo - hallwayscience lab - pre-demo - 1science lab - pre-demo - 2science lab - pre-demo - 3science lab - pre-demo - 4science lab - pre-demo - 5greenhouse demoScience labs - June demo - 1Science labs - June demo - 2Science labs - June demo - 3Science labs - June demo - 4Science labs - June demo - 5Science labs - June demo - 6As you can see, the crews are hard at work helping us Move Mountains to make sure you get the most out of your education here at ACC. If you need a break from the noise, pick up ear plugs at any student service desk on campus or visit the Library & Learning Commons (it is very quiet there). Thank you for your patience as we make these improvements.

Parker Campus Construction – Final Update

If you haven’t been to our Parker campus lately, you are in for a surprise. The 2nd floor remodel is complete and we now have cutting edge science labs, lab prep space and a new student space. This will allow us to offer more courses and programs in Parker. Check out photos of the new labs and student area below.

Science Labs and Equipment

ACC Parker campus new science lab ACC Parker campus new science lab ACC Parker campus new science lab ACC Parker campus new science lab ACC Parker campus new science lab Anatomy modelAnatomy models in cabinetsbeakers and glasswareStudent Space

Parker Student LoungeParker student spaceParker Student lounge - tablesParker student spaceThank you to everyone who worked and went to class at the ACC Parker campus during the construction phase. We hope you’ll enjoy the new classrooms and student area as much as we do.

Student Bond Fee Status


The Student Bond Fee has passed. All ACC students will pay the $2.80 building fee per credit hour whether enrolled in person or via online courses at any of the three ACC campuses.


This is to notify all enrolled students of Arapahoe Community College that an extension of the current building fee ($2.80 per credit) is being proposed to be collected from all ACC students enrolled in person or via online courses at any of the three ACC campuses.  Currently the fee is only paid by students enrolled in courses at the Littleton campus. If approved, it would be effective July 1, 2017 and the fee would be collected from all students for the first time fall academic term 2017. The fee will still be $2.80 per credit.

Proposed Ballot Language

Students enrolled on the Littleton campus currently pay a $2.80 per credit building fee.  Shall the current building fee of $2.80 be collected from all ACC students (online, Parker, Castle Rock and Littleton campus) students?


Per the Arapahoe Community College Institutional Fee Plan and Colorado Community College System Board Policy 4-20 (Student Tuition & Fees/Scholarships) this fee will go to a vote of Arapahoe Community College Students via ACC student email accounts beginning April 17, 2017.

Fee Purpose

The purpose of the fee is pay towards bonds that previously funded the acquisition/creation of student space, and for current upkeep, furniture, utilities, renovations for student space and equipment, and resources for students. The monies collected shall be used only to pay the bond or for the acquisition, installation, maintenance, and equipment to support and enhance student spaces.

Explanation of the Fee

The building fee was first voted by students to maintain and provide resources and renovations for student spaces and resources. These include student spaces, club and organization space, equipment, furniture for student usage, studying and other online and in-person resources for students. At the time the fee was voted on by students (in the late 1990’s), the Littleton campus was the only ACC campus. Since this time, ACC has added two additional campuses, Parker and Castle Rock. Students at these campuses also enjoy student spaces and resources, but are not currently assessed the building fee.  Online students have full access to all campuses and spaces, and enjoy resources online that serve them as ACC students, from tutoring, library, access to assistance from college staff, and other amenities as an ACC students.

Fee Assessment

This $2.80 fee is per enrolled credit per academic term.

ACC Parker Campus Remodel Update

Our Parker Campus remodel is progressing with great success! Our students will soon be enjoying state-of-the-art science labs, a beautiful new student lounge area, and innovative classrooms to enhance experiential and collaborative learning.

Here’s what we’ve been busy working on:

  • Office, restroom and classroom “finishes”…including ceiling grids, drywall, plumbing, painting and lighting
  • Overhead rough-end completions for mechanical, electrical and plumbing
  • Wet / dry lab prep areas
  • Electric panel & transformer relocation
  • Boiler room / glycol system / hydronic piping
  • Rubber-sheet flooring in the labs (complete with heat-welded seams)
  • Removal of acoustic ceiling fixture and addition of a student lounge skylight
  • Revamped HVAC and ductwork systems

Take a look at our progress!

Parker Remodel construction crew at work

Parker remodel - storage spaceParker remodel - electrical workParker remodel ceilingParker remodel - construction workers in actionParker Remodel - construction teamby Jeff Duggan, ACC Communications Coordinator

Parker Campus Construction Updates

If you have been to our Parker campus lately, you know that we’re busily working on the new science labs. Construction has begun and the dust is flying. Here are some photos to show you our progress.

Parker science lab construction progressParker science lab construction progress Parker science lab construction progress Parker science lab construction progress Parker science lab construction progress Parker science lab construction progress Parker science lab construction progress We also want to let you know that the ACC Parker campus will be closed on Friday, March 10 to take care of electrical and gas components that will leave the campus without electricity and heat on this day.

Make sure to watch our blog for more updates and photos from construction! We’re excited to share them with you!

Parker Campus Construction – New Labs

2017 is a big year at the ACC Parker campus! We’re gearing up to recreate our space and add new state-of-the-art science labs and work space. Construction is set to start in early February 2017. All of these updates mean we’ll be able to offer more classes, but also that it will be a construction zone this semester. Check out what’s to come!

Awesome things to come:

  • Innovative classrooms with state of the art technology to create a collaborative learning experience.
  • High tech science labs with flexible configurations to accommodate several different scenarios (wet lab, dry lab, prep areas, group discoveries, individual explorations – all things cool and science-related).
  • State-of-the-art lounge area for students to feel like part of the Parker community / ACC community / student community, all in one learning commons space.
  • Administration collaborative offices to create cohesion of shared ideas and expansion of experiential learning.
  • More course selections to finish your degree in your community.
  • Complete A.A.S. degree!

A few things to keep in mind:

ACC ear plugs

ACC ear plugs will be available to help you make it through any noise.

  • Construction will start the first part of February. We’ve got ear plugs on hand for those noisy days!
  • Parking spaces will be more limited. If your goal is to get 10,000 steps in a day, you’ll be on your way!
  • Intermittent electrical outages. Remember to save your work often!
  • Limited second floor bathroom accessibility. Don’t worry, the first floor will still be up and running!
  • We got a positivity pole to share your thoughts on what you are most excited about for the new science labs and we’re fully staffed if you have any question or concerns during this exciting time.

If you have any questions or need accommodations, please contact the ACC Parker campus at 303.734.4822 or parkercampus@arapahoe.edu.

ACC Invoices and Small Payments are now Digital

ACC is Moving Mountains

We’re making it easier for our students to succeed with a brand new, integrated system that ensures full user friendliness and modern capabilities.

Changes that have occurred:

Effective September 15, 2016, ACC will be using monthly Electronic invoicing and no longer producing physical bills. These bills will be produced on the 15th of every month, rather than 2 to 3 times per semester. The Electronic invoices provide detailed listing of charges, expected Financial Aid, Courses, and options for remittance of payment.

Electronic invoices are produced for ALL students with a balance – even if you have a 3rd party committed to paying for your tuition or if you have signed up for a payment plan through Nelnet Business Solutions.

Why is ACC moving towards Electronic Invoices?

Electronic Invoices provide a more accurate, more frequent and timely bill. It’s a greater convenience for students and is easy to locate. It also helps track payments from 3rd parties and tracks the enrollment status (as well as any affiliated Financial Aid) that a student may possess. And system records are more capable as an electronic standard versus the traditional US Mail.

Where can I find my Transaction History?

Electronic invoices will be housed in myACC – 6 easy steps to access:

  1. Log in to myACC.
  2. Click on the “Student Finance” tab.
  3. Find the “Billing Statement” box.
  4. Click on “View Monthly Statements or Billing Notices.”
  5. Click on the “Click here for credit card payments and/or historical account statements at ACC.”
  6. Find the “Your Bills” box and click on “Banner Sched Inv S…”
    Students will receive an email notification when Electronic invoices are published and available for viewing.

And Moving Towards the Future!

With an efficient new way for you to purchase parking passes, pay for replacement student ID cards and to take care of your testing center fees!

A New Way to Pay:

ACC is catching up with the world’s most modern marketing advancements by introducing our own electronic ‘Shopping Cart’ onto the ACC website. An easier and more simplified way for students to pay for individual or multiple services that ACC offers. Not only is this method more efficient, it’s also effective and fast!

How it will work:

  1. Log onto myACC
  2. Select the “Student Finance” Tab
  3. Under “Payment Options and Refunds” click on “Pay with Credit Card – Optional Purchases”
  4. Click on “Shopping Cart” (located at the top of the Student Account Online Page) and click on “Continue Shopping”
  5. View choices and click on “View Detail” for the Parking Permit you wish to purchase
  6. Click on “Add to Shopping Cart”, click on “Checkout” when you are finished shopping. If you are finished shopping, click “Continue Checkout”
  7. Enter credit card information along with your name and address (verify email is correct)
  8. Review your information to ensure it is accurate and click on “Submit Payment”
  9. Once the “Confirmation” Page appears click on “View Printable Receipt” and print your receipt, showing you have paid

If you have any questions, please contact the ACC Cashier’s Office.

by Gail McKinney, ACC Bursar

ACC Student Bond Fee FAQs

From November 14 through November 18, 2016, all enrolled ACC students will have the opportunity to vote yes or no on an incremental student bond fee for the purpose of constructing a new building for a Castle Rock collaboration campus to serve ACC student needs.

Here are a few FAQs about this proposed bond fee referendum.

When is the voting period and how do we vote?

Voting is November 14 – 18. All currently enrolled student will be eligible to vote in the bond referendum. Students will receive an email from “donotreply@arapahoe.edu” Monday, November 14 with a link to a survey to complete the voting process. Each student will be required to enter their ACC Student ID number in order to vote. The Student ID number will be used to verify the student has only voted once, not to track responses. If a student votes more than one time, only their first vote will count. The link will be active until Friday, November 18 at midnight.

What is a passing vote?

A simple majority will count as a passing vote. For example 51% For the Fee vs 49% Against the Fee would be a passing vote.

What will this campus do for the community?

It will offer more classes and services in the Castle Rock area and provide ACC students with an opportunity to complete a Bachelor’s degree without having to drive to Fort Collins. The collaboration campus will have space for employers and students to partner on internships and other learning opportunities.

What kind of classes will be offered in Castle Rock on the new campus?

The campus will have courses that are guaranteed to transfer. English, Math, Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences.

How will this new campus increase the value of my degree?

The Campus will give students an opportunity to gain real world experience when working directly with employers through internships or service learning. The fact that CSU wants to partner with ACC means that they value your ACC Degree.

Why is there a big jump in the fee in the year of 2019?

The new campus is expected to open in Fall of 2019. Students enrolled at ACC in Fall of 2019 will be the first to have access and use the new campus. It will also allow for space to open up in current classes (like Science) on the Littleton Campus with Parker and Castle Rock students taking those classes at the new Campus.

What are our fees now?

Right now students taking classes at the Littleton Campus pay a $2.80 per credit hour fee (up to 12 credit hours) that was enacted by a previous student vote to pay for maintenance of student spaces in the Main Building of the Littleton Campus. Students taking classes on the Parker and Castle Rock Campuses or online do not currently pay this fee.

Who will pay the fee if it is passed?

If the Bond is passed, all students on all campuses (with the exception of Concurrent Enrollment students who take classes at their High School) will pay the fee based on credit hours starting at $2.80 up to 12 credit hours in Fall 2017.

What if the Bond does not pass?

If the bond does not pass, fees will remain that same as they are now. ACC will continue with the project for the Castle Rock Campus. A Bond Fee may be reintroduced for student vote at another time. A tuition fee increase may be petitioned by ACC through the Colorado Community College System.

How many students will be on the new Castle Rock Campus?

The campus is expected to support up to 1000 students by the end of the first 5 years of operation with one building. Long term plans include a second building will be constructed for continued growth.

Whoa two buildings? Will that mean more fees in the future?

No. The fee that would be put in place for the construction and development of the Castle Rock Campus will not go above the projected $8.00 per credit hour in the year of 2021 and beyond.

Will I be charged for every credit hour?

You will be only charged a fee on a maximum of 12 credit hours per semester.

Do other Metro area Community Colleges charge Bond Fees?

Community College of Aurora – $2.24 per credit hour
Community College of Denver – $6.79 per credit hour
Front Range Community College – $33.71 per semester (Student Bond Fee) plus $4.15 per credit hour (New Construction Fee)
Pikes Peak Community College – $3.30 per credit hour (Parking Bond $1.35 and Student Center Bond $1.95 combined)
Red Rocks Community College – $70.00 per semester Student Recreation Bond fee plus $2.50 per credit hour Student Center Bond Fee

What about 4-year Colleges?

We are happy to help you with the transfer process.  We want you to pursue your Bachelor’s Degree.

Here are some of the Bond/Facilities Fees you can expect to pay.

Metropolitan State University – Metro Bond Fee of $21.15 per credit hour

Colorado State University – $20.75 per credit hour

University of Colorado – Boulder – $170.00 for 7 or more credit hours (Capital Construction Fee), $106.96 for more than 1 class of any credit hours (Rec Center Expansion Fee)

University of Colorado – Denver – Auraria Bond Fee $64.00

University of Colorado – Colorado Springs –  $33.00 + 9.50 per credit hour (University Center Bond Fee)

University of Denver – $590 per credit hours Bachelor of Arts Completion fee.

Regis University – Various flat fees of about $2046 per semester

Didn’t see your question? Just Ask.

Learn more about the ACC Student Bond Fee.

2015-2016 ACC Space Grant

ACC Space Grant TeamRocket launchACC NASA space grant payload







Payload balloonACC payload








NASA communication room

Chris Littlefield, ACC StudentChris Littlefield

I am a non-traditional student. I have returned to school after spending 25 years raising a family and working in the corporate world. I am old enough to have seen the last moon mission, Apollo 17. The last humans to leave low earth orbit.

Privatization of some space flight has led to an explosion in Aerospace companies. According to the Colorado Space Coalition there are more than 400 private aerospace companies in Colorado, supplying and developing commercial, military and government space applications.

Payload plansChris Littlefield working on payloadI am blessed with the opportunity to return to school at such a time in history. My goal in returning to school is get a job that enables me to participate in the rejuvenated push to

Participation in the RockSatC program has allowed me to be part of a diverse team of students and faculty from around the Denver metro area. We came together and with Model much work and gnashing of teeth built a scientific payload that returned valuable science.

My job on the team was lead Structural Engineer. I was able to take on the task of understanding the science group’s requirements, and design structures that would accomplish the required science. This project has allowed me to take a basic understanding of CAD and transform that into 3D structures that performed science in space.

Chris Littlefield working on payloadThe program is a challenge. It will test you in many unexpected ways. The people on the team became my friends and there are times where you spend more time at school working on the payload then you do with your family and studies.

I am pursuing a B.S. in Aviation and Aerospace science at Metropolitan State University where I hope to continue launching things to space. It is possible to accomplish your dreams. If you don’t do it this year you will be one year older when you do.  Warren Miller.

-Chris Littlefield

Jamie Principato

Jamie PrincipatoSometimes, the things you believe you are least qualified to do are the things you will learn and grow the most from doing. When ACC first established a Space Grant team, I was anything but qualified to take on such a project. I still wasn’t completely sure of my major, I hadn’t yet successfully completed a Physics course and I didn’t know the first thing about Space or the stratosphere or engineering or really how to be a part of a research team. But I knew it all sounded exciting.

Jennifer Jones, Jamie PrincipatoIt started, for me, the first time I was late to Physics class. It was raining and I was running through Downtown Littleton to try to get there before the end of that inevitable pop quiz I couldn’t afford to fail. Luckily for me, my professor was making a lengthy announcement at the beginning of class that day. I peered through the glass window on the door and saw a NASA logo on the projector screen, and a small rocket igniting on a launch pad. When a classmate opened the door for me, the first thing I heard was my professor explaining “you’ll get to work on some sophisticated projects and you might even be able to send them into space, so if you’re interested, just-” … and I couldn’t contain myself. While still walking to my seat, soaked from the rain and out of breath, my hand shot into the air and I blurted out “I’m interested!”

Image of the horizon from payloadAnd from that impulsive leap, my excitement and enthusiasm grew. I was one of the first people to join the first team, and there was so much to learn, but we had so much support and opportunity to facilitate that learning. Over the winter break, I attended a workshop with my professor, and I learned how to use a soldering iron and design and test circuits that were intended for a variety of purposes from turning on lights and heaters to getting information about the environment through delicate little sensors. I learned how to program the computer chip that would control all of these circuits and sensors, too, and make it possible for us to understand the information they’re collecting. These were the basic skills we would need to design and build our own payload later that spring.

Next, it was time to come up with an idea. We knew a little, now, about the environment to which we would be sending our payload. It would be flying on a high altitude weather balloon, through the very thin layer of  the atmosphere above the clouds, but below Space, called the Stratosphere.


ACC NASA Space Grant teamWe would reach an altitude of nearly 100,000 feet, where the sky above us would be black instead of blue, and we would stay in the air for a few hours. There are a lot of things you can observe at that altitude that are much harder to study from the ground, and the first thing that came to mind for me was cosmic radiation. Most of the radiation that bombards our planet from outer space is blocked by the many layers of our atmosphere before it can reach us on the ground, but in the stratosphere, there is much less in the way to block cosmic rays. I wanted to see what this higher level of radiation was like. And more than that, I wanted to thoroughly understand it. So I started doing research and learning about all the many ways there are to observe radiation, and believe me, there were more than I expected. I started discussing my questions and ideas with my professors and my newly established team, and before long, we had settled on a multimodal radiation study as our first project. We wanted to use three very different observation methods, because this would allow us to understand many different properties of cosmic radiation while practicing a lot of hands-on STEM skills.

Toy hooked up to electronic equipmentWe wanted to build a Geiger counter, which operates by interrupting a circuit when an ionized particle passes through a tube of gas, a dosimeter, which is like a piece of thin film that permanently darkens in places where it is hit by radiation, and (my personal favorite) a cloud chamber. A cloud chamber is basically a container of supersaturated gas, like a cloud in the sky, that condensates when a charged particle passes through it. If you record video of the inside of the container, or just look with your eyes, you’ll see wispy trails of condensation moving through the gas like tiny snakes through water. These trails are evidence of tiny subatomic particles from cosmic radiation moving
through the container!

Ring of LightIt took a lot of time, in and out of the lab, to integrate these three ideas into a single payload that met all the size and weight and budget restrictions we had to consider. It was a semester-long project, and while in the beginning we were only meeting once a week, we soon found ourselves getting together in smaller groups throughout the week to work on various parts of the project, and reserving our weekly full-team meetings for
things we needed to discuss or do with everyone. We learned quickly how to organize ourselves and delegate responsibilities to each other, how to set and stick to schedules and keep everyone up to date on new information or changes to plans and ideas.

Our professors were amazing. They stood back and let us find the routine that worked best for us as a group, and really stretch or creativity and try new things, even if it looked like we would fail, but they were always there in a pinch if we had a question or needed help with something we just didn’t understand. They played the role of facilitators more than instructors, and made sure we had everything we needed to learn as much as we could.

Payload balloon and crewWhen the payload was finished and it was finally launch day, I don’t think I could have been more excited. We all left ACC together in one van, well before the crack of dawn, and drove out to the East where there would be less water and fewer mountains to get in the way of a safe launch and landing. There were lots of other teams there, all to share the same balloon, and it was interesting to talk to them and learn about their projects and the ideas they had been investigating all semester long. Every school seemed to do things a little differently in terms of how their team operated, and it gave me a sense of pride in my own school to talk about how our lab worked and what we had accomplished so far. We even met another team of students who were studying radiation, and were later able to share data with them to make both our projects even better.

Finally, when the balloon lifted off, my heart lifted with it. I could barely believe I was doing science at the edge of space, that this thing flying up into the clouds was something I dreamed up and built with the help of my friends, that I really could ask a question about the universe and then go and find the answer without waiting for someone more “qualified” to give it to me or tell me I have the right to look. And I knew then, for me, that this was only the beginning.

-Jamie Principato

David Colclazier

David ColclazierHi! I’m David Colclazier, one of the project managers for the RockSat-C 2016 program sponsored by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium at Arapahoe Community College. With how little awareness exists around the program, I felt it prudent to jot down a few of my thoughts about my experiences now that it’s said and done. Well, not quite… the launch went off without a hitch, and I now spend my free time performing image analysis (what?!?) on pictures we received from our Ring Imaging Cherynkov detector (who?!?!), locating and determining the makeup of charged particle impacts we picked up with a hacked GoPro. If you had told me a month ago I would be doing this, loving it, and most importantly, succeeding, I would have laughed at you and told you I knew absolutely nothing about Ring-Like Cherry Detectors or image analysis or anything of the sort.

David Colclazier and Chris LittlefieldThe experiences I had… the opportunities for learning, social interaction, problem solving, time-management, confidence building, and general handyman growth are infinite. To start with absolutely nothing, tap into a rusty imagination to create a pool of ideas with a group of other folks who have a much better imagination than I… To narrow down the validity of those choices to a single idea and see that idea spring into existance… It’s surreal. The experience opened a somewhat hidden door, as well… I now have similar personal projects I’m working on I never would have thought I had the capability of completing if I hadn’t participated. I’m building an RC lawnmower, an automatic hydroponic gardening monitoring system, my own RICH detecter because I now find the science freakin’ awesome…

The most common thing I hear from folks who are considering participating in a Space Grant program is either “I have nothing to offer the group,” or “I have no experience with {x}..” I beg to differ. I felt the same way before, and now think it’s one of the silliest reasons not to participate, but rather one of the best reasons you should. Following is a list of skills I had little or no knowledge of prior to particiaping in the COSGC program:

  • Embedded microcontroller programming (arduino, netduion, edison)
  • 3d printing with multiple materials and extruders (I’d 3d printed before, but knew very little compared to now)
  • 3d modeling and prototyping with SolidWorks and AutoCAD  <— THIS IS HUGE!
    Electronics – circuit design and testing, noise management
  • Hacking (the electronic kind – tear apart a gopro, design and print parts to fit inside, put your parts in, put it back together, it still works!)
  • Parallel programming
  • Going from about a 3 on the ‘handy’ chart to a ‘7’ or ‘8’
  • RC communications
  • The names and purpose of countless tools, pieces of hardware, and other gizmos I’d never seen before (ALSO HUGE, lol…)

Chris Littlefield and David Colclazier at 3D printerI am now brimming with the confidence that I will fly through the rest of my Aerospace Engineering degree at CU Boulder with not only a head-start on those who have not participated, but with the ease of mind that transitioning from the theoretical classroom setting to the hands-on application of everything I’ve learned will be cake.

David Colclzier with piece of payloadDavid Colclazier working on electronic componentsIt won’t be easy…. “space is hard.” You will lose sleep, you will fall behind, and you will have setbacks. I’ve learned where my limits lie from a stress management standpoint; no more weeks with less than 8 hours of aggregate sleep! Still, participating was nothing less than fantastic, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat, and I guarantee you’ll feel the same way. I quote a new shirt I received for my birthday:

“The Only Reason I Became An Aerospace Engineer Was So I Could Build My Own Starship Enterprise.”

-David Colclazier

Joe Hamvas

Joe HamvasIt’s all about what they don’t teach you in class.

My name is Joe Hamvas, and I was in the Colorado Space Grant program for 3 semesters at ACC while I got an Associate of Science in Math degree. I’ve now transferred to CU Denver for Mechanical Engineering. Although I was able to apply some of the things I had learned in class to the RockSat- C Project, I learned the most from creating power point presentations and working with teammates. Often Engineering is misunderstood as just doing math all day, but this project taught me vital people skills.

Joe Hamvas working on construction of payloadJoe Hamvas working on payloadWithout “mundane” documentation, our rocket payload never would have launched.
The things I learned in RockSat-C were skills I can use in the workforce and in real life projects. The skills students learn here are more valuable than a degree, and, as icing on the cake, I even got to use some of the things I learned in class on the project.

There is no feeling like watching something you worked on get launched into space by NASA.

– Joe Hamvas

Lawrence Perkins

Lawrence PerkinsMy path to space and self discovery started with a poster on the wall.

I started at ACC as a part time student pursuing a path towards transferring credits to the electrical engineering program at UCD. At the time I wasn’t confident that I was good enough to have an engineering career. I knew I could do the work; however, I just didn’t have the confidence in my abilities to apply my self towards anything that could better myself.

COSGC slideOne of the first weeks of the beginning of the fall semester of 2015, I stumbled upon a poster for the RockSat team that was forming at ACC. I was intrigued at what I read but had to get to class. As I continued on with my week, my Trigonometry professor had a bit of special news for us. She presented to the class slides of the DemoSat and RockSat programs and explained what they were. I decided to investigate further thinking that I would not be a good fit for such a project. Lawrence PerkinsAfter attending the first meetings for both the DemoSat and the RockSat missions, I knew I wanted to be a part of the teams and contribute, even if that meant just keeping track of the budget and what we needed to order. So I did, by designing a spread sheet that tracked items that were ordered and/or in stock. Then we needed to make electrical schematics that were easy to understand, so I did that as well. Before I knew it, I was making contributions all areas of the projects from just giving sound advice to designing and building. Best of all, I noticed that I was becoming more comfortable making said contributions! I felt confident performing as an engineer!

Geiger CounterOne day, during a RockSat meeting, there was a proposal to make a RICH (Ring Imaging Cherenkov) detector using a camera. There were many cameras that we were trying to choose from, one of which was to use a GoPro. Before, I would have made a suggestion of which camera to use and that would be the end of it. This time, I tried something different called persistence. I was confident that I  could make a GoPro perform the task we needed it to, so I kept pushing my idea until we decided it was the best for the room, weight, power, and budget. I stood up for my idea and provided constructive ways to build the RICH detector the team needed. Our RICH detector flew on a DemoSat flight and our RockSat flight and is still functional to this day. I helped the team achieve designing a low cost functioning RICH detector and proved its function in space! This is something that I could not have done without the added confidence in myself that being a part of these teams have given me as the lead Electrical Engineer.

Lawrence Perkins working on payloadCurrently I’m leading a project for the Colorado Space Grant called the Eclipse Project. We’ll have the opportunity to study the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 via high altitude ballon. Just one year ago, not only was I unaware of Space Grants existence, but I was unaware of the true passion I hold to become engineer. Now the only question is “Do I become and Electrical Engineer or an Aerospace Engineer?” Maybe both…

– Lawrence Perkins