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BUILDING SATELLITE GROUND STATION: A PIONEERING PROJECT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING STUDENTS AT VGU

Recently, the satellite ground station project has attracted many interest and participation from both the bachelor program and master’s program students in Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Mechatronics and Sensor Systems Technology (MSST) department. The team member includes Võ Thành Đạt, Trần Anh Khoa, Nguyễn Minh Dũng, Lê Tự Quốc Nghi, Trần Lê Hoàng (all from ME bachelor program), with Nguyễn Văn Hóa Vũ (a student from the MSST master’s program) as a leader. This project, under the guidance and supervision of professor Võ Bích Hiển, professor Liu, and Mr. Đỗ Hữu Minh Hiếu, the lab engineer, has fulfilled the proposed criteria and has become the first milestone in astronomy study at Vietnamese-German University.

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The students from the bachelor program of Mechanical Engineering with their project: Satellite ground station

1. Know-how about satellite ground station with Mechanical Engineering students

To understand better about this breakthrough project, the team members have provided us with some of the necessary information about satellite and astronomy science. These are not entirely taught in detail at a bachelor program or master’s program, but require a lot more in-depth learning and research on their own.

a) Satellite and ground station

In general, with a leap and bound advancement in science and technology today, more and more satellites, serving a variety of purposes, are launched into space. Therefore, a system capable of capturing the data sent from the satellites entirely with high precision in real-time is required.

The ground station has the capability of receiving, deciphering, decoding the data sent from the satellites traveling in multiple orbits. These satellites are in charge of collecting data for weather forecasting, environmental monitoring, remote sensing, measuring, etc. Retrieved data in their raw form is encrypted and encoded, with the corresponding decoder, the information such as picture, sound, data will be filtered. Serving as the medium, the ground station will transfer these encrypted data packs to the desire customers and users.

b) Designing the ground station

In order to capture these valuable data from the satellite in their fullest in real-time, information of satellites’ orbit will be updated continuously through appropriate propagation algorithms. Upon satellite position update, the mechanical system, specially designed to rotate about two axes: elevation and azimuth axis, will operate to rotate the attached antenna to always following and pointing to the designated satellite position automatically. By installing the Software-defined radio frequency kit, the ground station can operate with multiple different frequency bands.

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The ground station collects encrypted data from multiple satellites and transfers them to their designated users

c) Functioning the ground station

With a visualized control interface, simple operations, the ground station is quite user-friendly, especially to an individual with limited knowledge about space and astronomy. With the direct and simplistic user interface, the station can be used as a teaching instrument in the field of communication, automation, design, mechanical manufacturing, etc.

2. Creating ground station from the Mechanical Engineering’s approach

According to the team member, due to technology independence, the manufacturing and operating cost are much smaller than the commercial versions of the ground station. The team has conducted many field trials, and the results are very positive, stable with high reliability. Currently, the system still has a lot of room for improvement, such as optimizing tracking algorithms, improving control systems, upgrading the mechanical system for more satellite compatibility, etc. Therefore, the team will continue searching for investors, cooperators with interest in this field of research. With this project’s success, the team would like to express that: Big journeys start with small steps! Mr. Vũ, the team leader from the MSST master’s program, hopes that their work would become an inspiration and motivation for the students from all other bachelor programs and master’s programs to pursue their dream projects.

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Ground station operation principle in the project of VGU’s Mechanical Engineering students

For more details on the project, please follow the project journal page: https://sites.google.com/view/satgndstat

Contact person: Nguyễn Văn Hóa Vũ
Phone number: 0932 932 121
Email: 14979@student.vgu.edu.vn.

The bachelor program of Mechanical Engineering at VGU is a six-semester study program combining basic engineering sciences with fundamental natural sciences and mathematics. The program provides students with expert skills and knowledge needed for a career in the industry as well as a broad and solid academic foundation for the continuation of their studies in a master’s program.

The master’s program of Mechatronics and Sensor Systems Technology at VGU is composed of five main topics: sensor fundamentals, signal processing, control engineering & automation, industry 4.0, and sensor applications in the various field contain the fundamental knowledge of this program.

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BROADEN THE FIELD OF RESEARCH PROJECT WITH INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

DESL project is the first ERASMUS+ program conducted at the Vietnamese-German University. This partnership is a great step in the process of expanding the scope of VGU’s research projects and establishing our position as a research-oriented university.

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The DESL research project is a grant international cooperation in the field

The DESL research project

The European Union’s Erasmus+ program is a funding scheme to support activities in the fields of Education, Training, Youth, and Sport, which is made up of three so-called “Key Actions” [Mobility; Cooperation and Policy] and two additional actions [Jean Monnet and sport]. They are managed partly at the national level by National Agencies and partly at the European level by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).

In 2019, the research project on Developing Energy-Efficient and Smart Lighting Education in Vietnam & Myanmar (DESL) was funded under the Erasmus+ of the European Union with the grant agreement number is 2019-1993/001-001. It was signed on November 26, 2019, and will be conducted for 36 months. This project belongs to the key action 2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices.

The project is involved by five country partners which include 09 university partners: the Aalto University – Finland; Technische Universiteit Eindhoven – the Netherlands; Univerza V Ljubljani – Slovenia; Mandalay Technological University and Yangon Technological University – Myanmar; and the HCMC University of Technology, Thu Dau Mot University, Eastern International University, and the Vietnamese-German University – Vietnam.

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The project concerns the sustainable use of energy and smart lighting

2. Research goal

Following are the overall aim of the project: (1) Raise the awareness and to identify needs and opportunities inefficient lighting, (2) Develop new courses in energy-efficient smart lighting based on the local needs, (3) Modernize the laboratory infrastructure to enhance the learning environments, (4) Enhance and upgrade the skills and competences of teaching staff, and (5) Strengthen the cooperation between university, industry, public sectors and society for the promotion of energy-efficient lighting.

3. Work Packages (WP)

The project consists of 05 Work Packages (WP):
– WP 1: Needs assessment and analysis (leader VGU – Dr. Chan Thai of Vietnamese-German University)
– WP 2: Development of new courses and lighting laboratory (leader TU/e – Dr. Juliette van Duijnhoven)
– WP 3: Quality assurance and monitoring (leader Aalto – Dr. Pramod Bhusal)
– WP 4: Dissemination, promotion, and collaboration with industry & society (leader YTU – Dr. Okka)
– WP 5: Project Management and communication (leader Aalto – Dr. Pramod Bhusal)

To ensure the success of our research project, we expect the primary outcomes per Work Package as below:
– Enhanced skills and expertise of students access to advanced education and research in the lighting field,
– Improved the academic excellence of teaching staffs, enhancement of skills and mobility of teaching staff,
– Improved quality of education and research in the area of smart and energy-efficient lighting,
– Enhanced linkage and cooperation between HEIs, Industry, public bodies, and society in the partner countries.

4. First step of the process

To conduct the WPs of the DESL project and achieve the expected outcomes, the project leaders and the representatives of 09 partners together had a kick-off meeting in Yangon, Myanmar, from 16 to January 17, 2020. During the two-day workshop, we discussed and finalized the responsibility of each partner in terms of project management, organization, financial management, and reporting. Moreover, Vietnamese-German University, the representative of partner countries together with Aalto University (program country), were invited to join the Grant Holders’ Meeting in Brussels, 27-28 Jan 2020, held by EACEA. The meeting provided useful information regarding research project management as well as the critical related notices.

The WP1 “Need Assessment and Analysis” includes two main objectives (1) Exploring essential needs and opportunities for improving lighting in Vietnam and Myanmar in terms of quality, efficiency, and sustainability through education development and (2) Identifying a variety of crucial shortcomings in lighting education in Myanmar and Vietnam. As the leader of WP1, Vietnamese-German University will coordinate partners to conduct the main activities, including:

– Awareness-raising seminars and stakeholder workshops [the workshop will be held at VGU on 2-3 March 2020].
– Prepare the questionnaires and conduct surveys.
– Need Assessment Report (propose/update the courses and lab equipment list).

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The representative of Yangon Technology University hands over the gift to the Vice-President of VGU – Dr. Ha Thuc Vien

The final beneficiaries of the research project are professionals in the building industry chain, lighting industry equipment producers and lighting efficiency service providers, and government officials, energy regulators, NGOs. The project intends to upgrade the existing courses and design new directions in energy-efficient lighting to train the workforce needed for the development of each partner country. The proposed project actions are also aimed at enabling teaching staff to receive upgraded training of skills as well as knowledge, provide them with the state of art tools for education and learning, improve their pedagogical and methodical capacities, provide international exposure and experience, and establish linkage and corporation among academic institution, industry, and policymakers.

* Vietnamese-German University’s project coordinator: Dr. Trung La Vinh (trung.lv@vgu.edu.vn); WP1’s leader: Dr. Chan Thai (chan.ttd@vgu.edu.vn).