Space Station Design: Engineers Bring CAD Expertise to Physics Class

In Mr. Hurt’s Physics class, freshmen and sophomore students are currently designing space stations. Pictured here are the printed CAD models of some of those space stations. Note the circular symmetry in each that allows rotational motion to simulate gravity.

Student work from left to right: Todd, Victor, Josh, Alec, Alena

In the past, this project was a mathematical exercise and a simple drawing. This year, thanks to the Engineering Academy, the students were able to go beyond simple drawings and numbers on a page. The Providence engineers took their group’s ideas and sketches and were able to make scale computer models that turned into the beautiful prints above!

Pictured here are three representations of the I.S.S. Dorothy, showing the printed CAD model, a stylized poster, and the station design and organization.

CAD by Alec Marchand
Alec’s printed version, from a CAD file
created in SketchUp
Representating by Katie Gerawan
The stylized representation,
with a cool retro theme!
Jenna Peterson and Eva Kilpper design and parameters
The technical details (click to enlarge)
Each group member was assigned an expertise within the group in one of the following areas:
  • Design & Appearance. Each group presents a detailed scale drawing model along with an artistic representation of their group’s space station.
  • Story. Consistent with the appearance, a short story is written to accompany the space station. This is a foray into science fiction, where both the science and the fiction are given attention.
  • Physical Parameters. After reading an article from NASA, design parameters are identified that would allow long term space travel. Each space station design has detailed calculations showing that the pseudo-gravity experienced on the space station is similar to gravity on Earth. 

By actually making physical models for these space stations, interesting questions arose that would not have otherwise come up. How do you find the volume of these shapes? How many people could live on these space stations?

Left to right: Isaiah, Todd (with Deadlock), Chloe

Pictured above is a group’s final class presentation, entitled “Deadlock.” Isaiah wrote a short story consistent with physics principles and went above and beyond to illustrate the story. Todd developed the CAD representation of the space station based on the parameters that their captain, Chloe, guided the group in developing.

Here is one group’s cover page for their short story about an exploratory vessel looking for colonizable planets.

An advertisement for Orisa, a fictitious colonizable planet,
by Bella


Mr. Hurt loved seeing his students bring art, math, physics, engineering, and teamwork together for this unique project.Thanks to the Providence Engineering Academy for helping bring designs to reality!

630 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, USA

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