- Dr. Christopher Kitts
- Associate Professor, Dept. of Mechanical
Robotic Systems Laboratory, Santa Clara University
- Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, School of
Guadalupe Hall, Rm 308
- Hours: 3:00-5:00 pm Tuesdays in CREST
building; also after class on Tuesdays as necessary; other times by
- Phone: (408) 554-4382 (voice mail
available, but rarely checked)
- Dropbox: Dr. Kitts will have a Mech372
INBOX and a Mech372 RETURN BOX outside of his office door on the 3rd
floor of Guadalupe Hall. You may turn in and pick up materials
there - please don't confuse the boxes by turning things in via the
- Mailing address: Dr. Christopher Kitts,
Guadalupe Hall 3rd Floor, Robotic Systems Laboratory, Santa Clara
Univ. 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara CA 95053
- E-mail: ckitts @ scu.edu
- Dr. Michael Hicks
- Advanced Technology Center, Lockheed Martin
- Contact: michael.t.hicks
- Course Classroom:
- CREST Facility, Bldg 554, NASA Ames Research
Park, Main Room, Directions
- Course Web Site:
- Course Catalog Description:
- A review of the engineering principles, technical subsystems,
and design processes that serve as the foundation of developing and
operating spacecraft systems. This course focuses on
subsystems and analyses relating to mechanical, thermal, power,
software, and payload elements. Note: MECH 371 and 372 may be
taken in any order. (Also listed as ENGR 372) (4 units)
- Course Sequence Objective:
- The objective of the graduate Space Systems
Design and Engineering course
sequence (MECH/ENGR 371/372) is to introduce the conceptual
foundations, engineering principles, technical subsystems, and
design processes that are relevant to the development and
operation of space systems.
- MECH 371 focuses
on subsystems and analyses relating to orbital mechanics,
propulsion, command and data handling, and attitude determination
and control. MECH 372 focuses on subsystems and analyses relating to mechanical,
thermal, power, flight computers/software, and mechanisms. Both
courses also address systems engineering, project management, and
lifecycle design processes that are fundamental to the space
industry. The two courses may
be taken in any order.
With respect to the Department of Mechanical
Engineering's defined set of graduate Core Objectives, this class
contributes to the following learning areas:
- Core Objective 1 - Apply advanced concepts of
mechanical engineering, mathematics, and science.
- Core Objective 4 - Understand the impacts of
engineering solutions in a global and societal context.
- The Mech 371/372 course sequence is the core
course sequence for the space systems depth area in the SCU MS
program (space systems is offered as a depth area in Mechanical,
Electrical and Computer Engineering). The course is also a
valid technical elective for some of the other available depth
- The MECH/ENGR 372 course format will consist of
weekly lectures, several assignments, and three exams.
lectures will presume successful completion of readings and
assignments. Assignments will cover material from both the
text as well as the lecture.
simulation and analysis of real space system designs and
operational telemetry will be
incorporated into the class.
- 4 Units
- Note that this is an intensive class. It is
worth 4 graduate units, which is twice the normal number of units
for a graduate class at Santa Clara University. The workload
will reflect this. During a previous class, one piece of
student feedback was that the workload was "more than a
normal class." Yes... this is how it should be.
In fact, to be precise, it should be that the workload is
"twice the workload of a normal class." Be
prepared, and don't be surprised.
- Graduate standing in the School of Engineering or
371 and MECH 372 may be taken in any order.
- There are no prerequisites for
either class other than having graduate standing in the SCU
engineering program (undergraduates may enroll at the discretion
of the instructor), although there is a presumption that students
hold an undergraduate physics-based engineering degree. We will have students from a wide range of
engineering fields: mechanical, electrical, computer, etc.
Having graduate standing means that you have had experience and
can apply standard undergraduate knowledge in engineering across a
number of fields to include physics and chemistry, basic electronics, basic statics,
basic thermodynamics, and
basic programming. You will be expected to understand
mathematics (through differential equations, use of vectors and
matrices, etc.). In addition, we will occasionally make
use of modern engineering tools such as Matlab/Simulink; as a
graduate student you are expected to be able to learn the basics
of using such tools on your own if
you don't already have
experience doing so.
- Lecture slides - these slides will serve as the
primary reference for the course
- Course Text:
- Understanding Space:
An Introduction to Astrodynamics, 3rd Edition, J.J. Sellers,
2004, (McGraw Hill). Note that this book can be routinely
purchased from amazon or a related vendor for under $40 new (and
~$25 used). A used version of the book in reasonable
condition would be perfectly appropriate for this course.
Rumor has it that it is available on the web as a pdf download.
- Additional Resources:
- Space Mission Analysis & Design, 3rd Ed, Wertz &
Larson, eds., 1999 (Microcosm)
- Spacecraft Systems
Engineering, 3rd Edition, P. Fortescue, ed., 2003, (John Wiley
- Fundamentals of Space Systems, V. Pisacane and R.
Moore, eds., 1994 (Oxford University Press).
- Latest edition of Matlab & Simulink Student
Version (this now includes several toolboxes such as control
systems, symbolic math, etc). Note that this is wonderful
software and I use it in a wide variety of my courses at the
undergraduate and graduate levels. If you are a graduate
student with an emphasis in control systems, mechatronics, or
space systems, you should invest in this software. Full
professional licenses are also available in the engineering design
- Additional references as distributed or discussed
- Also - as my dissertation advisor once said to an unsuspecting
graduate student: "You're
a grad student now... the library is your reference for this
grading breakdown is estimated to follow these general guidelines.
However, the instructor has the discretion to modify this
breakdown depending on how the class evolves, student interest, etc.
- 30 % Test 1
% Test 2
- 15 %
- 20 %
(Note 1: the lowest homework grade will be dropped)
(Note 2: homework may be spot checked)
(Note 3: the weighting for assignments is not necessarily evenly
- 5 %
- Also - there is a limited extra credit opportunity - described
- Students may elect to earn extra course credit by
performing a significant, individual research project generally
consisting of writing a research paper on a topic
relevant to space systems. Credit for this project can
contribute to raising a student's overall grade by as much as 1/3
of a letter grade, but the highest resulting grade can only be a
B. So, for example, an outstanding research project could
allow a student nominally earning a B- to end up with a final
grade of B. A student with a B or higher cannot gain
additional credit by performing this assignment.
- Academic Integrity Pledge:
The Engineering Honor Code is a long-standing Santa Clara tradition.
Instituted at the request of engineering students, the code
All students taking courses in the School of Engineering agree,
individually and collectively, that they will not give or receive
unpermitted aid in examinations or other coursework that is to be used
by the instructor as the basis of grading.
Students and teachers cooperate and share responsibilities under the
code. Teachers are responsible for making clear what aid is
permissible and for using procedures that minimize temptations to
violate the code. Students are responsible for behaving honorably, for
actively ensuring that others as well as themselves uphold the code,
and for being responsive to violations. Students dominate the
administration of the code, and they take full responsibility for
trying cases of alleged violations and for recommending penalties.
Alleged violations should be reported to the Office of the Dean.
In order to be explicit, this class has the
following guidelines regarding what aid is permitted and not
- - You ARE NOT permitted to give or receive
aid on class examinations.
- - You ARE permitted to receive limited aid
on problem sets. Limited
discussion with other students regarding solution approaches is
permitted and encouraged, however, significant collaboration
and/or copying the work of other students (in the current class -
or from classes conducted in previous
years) is not permitted.
- Violations of academic integrity will be taken very
seriously and will not be overlooked. Violations will be
handled in a manner consistent with instructor, Department, School
and University guidelines and policies. A minimum penalty for
the first occasion of cheating on an exam or through excessive copying on a homework
will include a 0 grade for that exam/assignment as well as an
overall grade penalty of 1 full grade.
- Late Policy:
- Homework assignments will NOT be accepted
past the deadline.
- Note that written assignments may be mailed
(postmark is acceptable for a submission time). In addition,
assignments may be completed early in order to avoid conflicts.
- Students are expected to attend class.
Material presented during lecture is often unavailable in the
course references (or it is spread across many of the
references). In addition, many of the lecturers have
significant industry experience and insight which is best conveyed
face-to-face during lectures. That said, it is understood that occasional absences
are unavoidable due to various family and work commitments.
Students missing class are responsible for coordinating with fellow
students in order to gather any information missed during their
absence; in general, the instructor(s) is (are) not available to
review the breadth of material presented during a lecture.
- Regarding homeworks, one homework grade will be
dropped for each student with the intention of having this be a
built-in way to alleviate the homework workload at each student's
individual discretion. Of course, students are responsible for
the material covered by any skipped assignments (the solutions are
provided for all assignments). Late homeworks are not accepted,
but they can certainly be turned in early or mailed (with the postmark
serving as an acceptable turn-in timestamp).
- Regarding exams, students should make every
effort to not miss exams - the instructor is under no
obligation to make-up these times. Students should plan
ahead to avoid this situation and/or to coordinate 2 weeks in
advance for any possible way to make-up or to take the quiz/exam,
possibly remotely. Barring significant last-minute emergencies,
students who miss quizzes/exams without any advance notification
will not have an opportunity to make up the missed points.
- Administrative Documents:
- Students requiring memos for reimbursable
expenses should draft their own documentation for the instructor's
- Submission and Return of Student Material:
- Students are advised to keep a personal copy of their homeworks
- make a copy prior to turning in your work for grading.
This serves 2 purposes. First, portions of the exams may be
open book/notes; homeworks leading up to that exam may not have
been graded/returned, and while the solutions will be available
students often like to refer to their own written work.
Second, this prevents problems with homework that somehow gets
"lost" in the process of turning it in to the
- The instructor will not accept e-mailed
attachments (due to extraordinary difficulties in the past with
file incompatibilities, virus issues, file size abuse, etc.).
Faxes will also not be accepted.
- Students should submit materials in a written
form. Materials may be handed in personally during class or
office hours; they may also be mailed, with the postmark serving
as a time stamp for deadlines. Materials may also be dropped
off at the instructor's on-campus office in the INBOX (not the
- Student materials will be returned during class
or office hours. They will also be placed in a RETURN BOX located outside the instructor's on-campus
office. NOTE - STUDENTS MUST NOT USE THE RETURN BOX TO
SUBMIT MATERIAL TO THE INSTRUCTOR - this box is only used to get
materials to students. To submit material to the instructor,
use the INBOX or any of the other methods previously outlined.
- Homework Standards:
- Although it seems like a exercise in
micromanagement for the instructor, repeated agonizing experiences
with interpreting student assignments makes it painfully necessary
to provide the following homework preparation guidelines.
- Students are expected to prepare homework (and
other submitted written material) in a clear, concise, and neat
manner. Submissions should be stapled and labeled with the
- If a solution
cover sheet is provided, this should be the cover page for your
- Homework problems should appear in the
proper sequence with no "continuations" of a problem to
be found later in the submission. Pages should be numbered,
and only one side of each page should be used. Pages should be
right-side up (yes, it's happened....). Plots, diagrams,
etc. should be labeled so that it is clear what information is
being presented, what the appropriate units are, what portion of the
assignment that the results apply to, etc. Plots from
programs like Matlab should be displayed in a small size format
(no need to use the default of 1 plot per page - we want to be
environmentally conscious) unless relevant data can't be
interpreted at this size.
- Each problem should show legitimate
mathematical/reasoning steps that lead to the solution, and the
solution should be clearly indicated (e.g. box it, underline it,
etc.). Do not include multiple solutions, and do not include
scratch paper showing background work.
- Writing must be dark enough that at least a faint
impression of lead or ink must appear on the paper! If I can't
read your handwriting or make sense of your explanations, you will
receive no credit for the assignment.
- Narrative assignments such as research papers,
etc. will be graded for style and the ability to effectively
communicate in addition to the quality of the assigned content.
- Homework may be graded on a spot-check basis.
- Homework may not be returned prior to quizzes or
exams on the topics covered by that assignment. Students
wishing access to their homeworks to prepare or use during such
times should make copies of their work prior to their original
submission. Note that solutions will, of course, be
available for studying prior to quizzes and exams.
- For assignments in which you may work in study
- - list the names of students you worked with on
- - you are encouraged to discuss and collaborate
with your partners in order to improve your understanding of the key
concepts and solution techniques; be advised, however, that all
students will be held 100% responsible for understanding all the
material - if you have trouble, the instructor will help you
- - you are expected to formulate your solutions ON
YOUR OWN; I do NOT want to see 'carbon copies' of the solutions
among the members of your study group
- Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual
- Santa Clara
University upholds a zero tolerance policy for discrimination,
harassment and sexual misconduct. If you (or someone you know)
have experienced discrimination or harassment including sexual
assault, domestic/dating violence, or stalking, I encourage
you to tell someone promptly. For more information, please consult
the University's Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct
Policy at http://bit.ly/2ce1hBb
or contact the university's EEO and Title IX Coordinator,
Belinda Guthrie at 408-554-3034,
Reports may be submitted online through https://www.scu.edu/osl/report
or anonymously through Ethicspoint https://www.scu.edu/hr/quick-links/ethicspoint.
Accommodation for Pregnancy and Parenting:
alignment with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and
with the California Education Code, Section 66281.7, Santa Clara
University provides reasonable accommodations to students who are
pregnant, have recently experienced childbirth, and/or have
medically related needs. Pregnant and parenting students can
often arrange accommodations by working directly with their
instructors, supervisors, or departments. Alternatively, a
pregnant or parenting student experiencing related medical
conditions may request accommodations through Disability
- Disability Accommodations Policy:
you have a documented disability for which accommodations may be
required in this class, please contact Disabilities Resources,
Benson 216, www.scu.edu/disabilities,
as soon as possible to discuss your needs and register for
accommodations with the University. If you have already arranged
accommodations through Disabilities Resources, please initiate a
conversation with me about your accommodations during my office
hours within the first two weeks of class. Students who are
pregnant and parenting may also be eligible for accommodations.
Accommodations will only be provided after I have verification of
your accommodations as approved by Disabilities Resources, and
with sufficient lead-time for me to arrange testing or other
accommodations. For more information you may contact
Disabilities Resources at 408-554-4109.