James A. Flaten
James A. FlatenAssociate Director of the MN Space Grant Consortium and Contract Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Ph.D., Physics, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, 1997
B.A., Physics and Mathematics (with Computer Science emphasis), Carleton College, 1987
Associate Director of the MN Space Grant, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Department, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, 2005-Present
Associate Contract Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Department, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, 2015-Present
Assistant Contract Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Department, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, 2005-2015
Assistant Professor, Physics Department, Luther College, Decorah, IA, 2001-2005
Assistant Professor, Physics Department, University of Minnesota - Morris, Morris, MN, 1997-2001
Graduate Student Teaching and Research Assistant, Physics Department, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, 1991-1997
Physics Instructor, The Hill School (a private high school), Pottstown, PA, 1988-1991
Professor Flaten serves as the Associate Director of the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium (MnSGC), a NASA higher education program, which involves state-wide promotion of all-things-NASA-related. He teaches NASA-related classes, including freshman seminars on high-altitude ballooning and high-power rocketry, and also works with college students and faculty (and others) on out-of-class NASA-related projects including building and flying miniature spacecraft into the stratosphere using weather balloons, developing science payloads for NASA suborbital rocket flights, and mentoring student teams participating in high-power rocketry competitions. Professor Flaten also conducts teacher workshops and outreach activities at local schools and for the general public on aerospace, astronomy, physics, and engineering. His formal academic background is in low-temperature experimental physics and he particularly enjoys the connections between physics and sound (especially musical instruments), physics and art (especially art using unusual optics), and physics and Halloween ("spooky" physics exhibits, sometimes called a “Mystery Science Lab” or a “Haunted Lab”).
Honors and Awards
1987: Graduated summa cum laude, with Honors in Physics
1987: Elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi
1986: Noyes Prize for Academic Excellence
1984: Phi Beta Kappa Freshman Prize
Flaten, J. (2022) “Additional Techniques for Improving Photography on Stratospheric Balloon Flights,” manuscript accepted for publication in the Journal of High Altitude Ballooning
Wallo, S., Posey, A., Wehling, P., Van Gerpen, A., Flaten, J. (2022) “PTERODACTYL: a Versatile Flight Computer for Stratospheric Ballooning,” manuscript accepted for publication in the Journal of High Altitude Ballooning
Flaten, J., Gosch, C., Habeck, J., (AHAC 2015, republished by JHAB in 2021) “Techniques for Payload Stabilization for Improved Photography During Stratospheric Balloon Flights,” Journal of High Altitude Ballooning 1(1).
Flaten, J. A., Lindensmith, C. A. & Zimmermann, Jr., W. (2006) "The Frequency Dependence of Critical-Velocity Behavior in Oscillatory Flow of Superfluid 4He Through a 2-µm by 2-µm Aperture in a Thin Foil," Journal of Low Temperature Physics, 142(5-6): 725-752.
Flaten, J. A., Borden, C. T., Lindensmith, C. & Zimmermann, Jr., W. (2006) "Simulations of Vortex Evolution and Phase Slip in Oscillatory Potential Flow of the Superfluid Component of 4He Through an Aperture," Journal of Low Temperature Physics, 142(5-6): 753-767.
Flaten, J. A. & Cooper, R. A. (2005) "Improving Upon Mach's Wave Machines to Demonstrate Traveling Waves," The Physics Teacher, 43: 304-307.
Flaten, J. A. & Parendo, K. A. (2001) “Pendulum waves – A lesson in aliasing,” American Journal of Physics, 69(7): 778-782.
Flaten, J. A. (1999) "Curves of Constant Width," The Physics Teacher, 37: 418-419.
Flaten, J. A. (1997) "Beyond Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation," The Physics Teacher, 35: 248-250.
Flaten, J. A., Lindensmith, C. A., Zimmermann, Jr., W. (1995) “Studies of the Critical Velocity of Superfluid 4He in a 2 µm by 2 µm Aperture in a Thin Foil at Various Frequencies,” J. Low Temp. Phys., 101, 743-748.
Selected Presentations, Exhibits, and Events through 2022
- Public exhibits (at U of MN) by freshman seminar classes and project-based inquiry classes on high-power rocketry, stratospheric ballooning, and lighter-than-air RC vehicles
- MN Space Grant Exhibits of student-built aerospace hardware at MN State Fair, Bell Museum, Science Museum of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools STEM Expo, STEM Summit at St. Cloud State University, CSE STEM Expo
- Interactive aerospace activities like rideable hovercraft and straw rockets and parachutes at NE Middle School (Minneapolis), Valley View Elementary (Bloomington), Kids on Campus events (U of MN), Webster Elementary (Minneapolis), Roseville Area Middle School (Roseville), Eureka! summer camps (U of MN), STEM Academy (Columbia Heights), Brimhall Elementary (Roseville), and other schools in the Twin Cities
- The Physics of Sound and Musical Instruments (presentation and demonstrations), Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony retreats and summer camps, Creek Valley Elementary (Edina), Twin Cities MN Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild, South High School (Minneapolis), and more
- Career presentations at Eden Prairie High School (Eden Prairie), Girl Scout Camp (Marine on St. Croix), Aviation Career Forum (organized by MNDOT), and ECEPS Summer Program, CIS Physics Field Day (all at U of MN), and more
- High-power rocketry videocon lessons (for college/university rocket teams) – offered in 2017, 2018, and 2021
- Host the Space Grant (in-the-)Midwest High-Power Rocket Competition, North Branch (see details about 2022-2023 competition at Midwest Rocketry Competition webpage)
- Organize and host an annual MnSGC Intercollegiate Challenge (see details about the 2022-2023 challenge at MnSGC Intercollegiate Challenge webpage)
- Regular stratospheric weather balloon flights, sometimes carrying payloads built by students at local schools including the “Zoo” school (Apple Valley), Burnsville High School (Burnsville), Farnsworth Aerospace Magnet (St. Paul), AFSA middle and high school (Maplewood and Vadnais Heights), White Bear Lake – South High School (White Bear Lake), and more
- Stratospheric ballooning workshops for Go4St8 high school physics teachers, middle school teachers, and college/university eclipse ballooning teams (from other states)
- Many presentations with ballooning students at Academic High Altitude (ballooning) Conferences (AHAC) – see https://www.iastatedigitalpress.com/ahac/collections/
- Astronomy visuals for “Night Songs” and “HEPPAI” community events with choral and instrumental music, plus poetry readings. Sub-themes have ranged from “the (astronomical) beauty of the night” to “climate change, with images and evidence from NASA spacecraft.” University Lutheran Church of Hope (Minneapolis), Peace Lutheran Church (Falcon Heights), Holden Village Retreat Center (Washington State), Augsburg University (Minneapolis), Grace Lutheran Church (Minneapolis)
- Presentations on Astronomy, Eclipse Ballooning, and Physics of Sound and Musical Instruments, Holden Village (Lutheran Retreat Center) – summer 2012, summer 2018