MECH 372 / ENGR 372
Space Systems Design and Engineering II
Course Information
Dr. Christopher Kitts
Associate Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
Director, Robotic Systems Laboratory, Santa Clara University
Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, School of Engineering
Office: Guadalupe Hall, Rm 308
Hours: 3:00-5:00 pm Tuesdays in CREST building; also after class on Tuesdays as necessary; other times by arrangement
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 RETURN BOX.
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 @ lmco.com
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 areas.
The MECH/ENGR 372 course format will consist of weekly lectures, several assignments, and three exams.  The lectures will presume successful completion of readings and assignments.  Assignments will cover material from both the text as well as the lecture.   Limited 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 Instructor Permission.  
MECH 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 & Sons). 
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 center.
Additional references as distributed or discussed in class.
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 class."
The 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 
30 %   Test 2
15 %   Test 3
20 %        Homework Assignments 
                (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 distributed)
  5 %       Class Participation/Discussion
Also - there is a limited extra credit opportunity - described below.
Extra Credit:
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 states: 
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 permitted:
   - 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.
Student absences:
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 signature.
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 instructor.
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 RETURN BOX)..  
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 student's name.  
If a solution cover sheet is provided, this should be the cover page for your returned homework. 
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 groups:
- list the names of students you worked with on your assignment
- 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 Misconduct:
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, bguthrie@scu.edu. 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:
In 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 Resources.
Disability Accommodations Policy:
If 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.