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(Me in front of an SR-71 at the Udvar Hazy Smithsonian Air and Space Museum)

Hey everyone! My name is Sean Marsden and I’m a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. My major is Aerospace Engineering with a concentration in Astronautics. I decided to pursue engineering at ERAU because I enjoy learning and working with science and technology, particularly with that which can be used to better ourselves and planet through the research and discoveries we make in outer space. When I graduate, I’d like to secure a good job and work with a company to design and manufacture space vehicles with the capabilities to reach beyond our own planet. Depending how my career goes and how the industry and economy is faring, I would consider starting my own aerospace vehicle company with the intent on creating a method of transporting and collecting Helium-3 from the surface of the moon in order to create a clean, highly effective source of energy through nuclear fission back here on Earth.

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(Right: me, my father, and my grandfather not long after starting at ERAU)

Some of my skills include a lot of computer work. I am proficient with coding in Python and MatLab. I also have mechanical design experience using the CAD software Solidworks, CATIA, and AutoDesk Inventor, and orbit design with Systems ToolKit (STK). During the summer of 2019, I interned with a smaller electronics, avionics, and cubesat developer called Tiger Innovations, in Herndon, Virginia. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and gained a lot of great hands-on experience. I assisted in integration and testing of Tiger Innovations’ flagship vehicle: the Pearl White Program, which successfully launched from the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand in August 2019. Some of my duties included mass properties evaluation, moment of inertia testing, thermal vacuum testing, clean room management, vibration table testing, design and 3D printing of parts needed for testing, vacuum testing of 40 flight ready nozzles and plenum valves, dynamic shock testing for vehicle shipping methodology, and Day-In-The-Life testing and script preparation for a proprietary GPS beacon, and ground station equipment assembling, maintaining, and calibrating. Being an intern to the mechanical department at Tiger Innovations is definitely one of my coolest and most rewarding experiences.

In January of 2017, I participated in a high school experimental design challenge hosted by Orbital ATK in Sterling, Virginia. The challenge was to work in teams and design and propose a working concept for a zero-gravity experiment that if selected, would fly aboard Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket on a mission to resupply the International Space Station. The experiment had to fit within a 1U cubesat, which is 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm controlled box. When the experiment reached ISS, the astronauts would only have to place the cubesat in its designated place and plug into the ISS main computer. The requirements meant that it had to be completely self sufficient and collect its own data, as to not worry the astronauts with more work. It also had to be safe for the people aboard ISS, completely fit within the 1U cubesat parameters, draw less than 350V of power, weigh less than 1.33 kg, and to clearly have a relevant and important research purpose that can be applied to Earth’s needs. You then presented your idea for the experiment to a panel of experienced individuals, including astronauts Frank Culbertson and Don Thomas, and the program coodinator Michelle Lucas, also an ERAU graduate.

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(Above, my brother and I at the experiment design competition)

I have experience repairing things such as computers and other little mechanical devices. I took several computer science classes throughout high school and can effectively built a PC from card-level parts and replace or upgrade them when necessary. I volunteered with VASTAR program, which rebuilds and refurbishes used computers and then donates them to families of students in need so that they have access to a computer and homework. I also enjoy fiddling with mechanical things such as RC planes, bicycles, repairs around the house and building things out of wood or PVC. I also have some experience working on cars. I have made repairs to my personal vehicle such as replaces the fuel pump, rewiring the mass air flow sensor, replacing purge valve solenoids, changing out the oil, replacing a window motor regulator, and upgrading the spark plugs.

Some of my accolades include earning the rank of Eagle Scout, being awarded the ERAU Presidential Scholarship, being a member of the National Honor Society in high school, earning a 1st degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and being recognized for International Baccalaureate certifications in mathematics, U.S. History, and Latin. Some of my hobbies include playing the trombone, camping and hiking, and working on my car. I also enjoy reading, swimming, and playing video games often. I live in a small town in the northern Virginia region with my family. I have three younger brothers and my father is also an engineer while my mother is a hard-working stay at home mom to four boys. Working on the iFixit Standard Project is neat to me because I enjoy working with technology and computers, like the laptop that will be my team’s device, and this gives me the opportunity to work on something I enjoy and apply the skills I learned from Technical Writing class to simply write about what I do with the laptop.