Illinois Space Day Set for April 5


Elementary and middle school students will be treated to exhibits of all things space and a keynote talk from space industry engineer Craig McGrath during Illinois Space Day on Saturday, April 5.

The Illinois Space Society (ISS) student organization hosts the event, which features a format similar to the University of Illinois Engineering Open House. Starting at noon and held in the Mechanical Engineering Building (MEB) on the Engineering at Illinois campus, Illinois Space Day highlights the following exhibits:

  • Space Shuttle Tile & Liquid Nitrogen – The exhibit will demonstrate space shuttle tile and the physics and challenges of re-entry heating, as well as extreme cooling with liquid nitrogen. Demos will include freezing and smashing a flower and a penny, observing the contraction of a frozen balloon, and eating frozen marshmallows.
  • Hybrid Rocket Engine – The exhibit will demonstrate basic principles of a combustion rocket engine.
  • Orbital Simulator – The exhibit will demonstrate the physics behind gravitational orbits and allow students to get hands-on understanding by attempting to place their “satellite” (a marble) in orbit.
  • T-shirt Decorating – Students will personalize their Illinois Space Day t-shirts, answering the question, “Why is Space Awesome?”
  • ISS Technical Projects – Student members will showcase their projects, including a two-stage rocket and submissions for the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) and microgravity competitions.
  • Aerospace Engineering Student Organization Demonstrations – Illinois Robotics in Space (IRS), Student Aircraft Builders (SAB) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will feature demonstrations.

Kindergarten through eighth grade students throughout the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area and in Mahomet have been invited to attend. Registrations can be completed online beforehand or on the day of the event in 253 MEB.

The program will start with an opening address followed by the exhibits. McGrath’s keynote talk will begin at 2:30 p.m. in 253 MEB.

An AE at Illinois alumnus, McGrath is a Systems Engineer for Boeing’s Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, CA. He also has experience working with Edge Space Systems at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Goddard. McGrath has worked on a total of 18 different spacecraft, ranging from weather satellites, to GPS, to communications satellites.

McGrath earned a bachelor’s degree from AE at Illinois in 2010 and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of California-Los Angeles.

For more information regarding Illinois Space Day, visit the ISS website or Facebook Page.