Canister Satellite Team Developing Engineers

Tell me, and I forget; teach me, and I may remember; involve me, and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Get involved with a team that develops your engineering abilities and designs real projects dedicated to helping you gain industry skills!

The Canister Satellite team is an undergraduate design competition team that designs and builds payloads for small sounding rockets to fulfill competition requirements. The design and construction of these systems develops skills in hardware, software, and system development, as well as a detailed understanding of the design process and of the development of clean documentation.

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) has organized an annual student design-build-launch competition for space-related topics. Although similar competitions exist for other fields of engineering (robots, radio-control airplanes, racing cars, etc.), most space-related competitions are paper design competitions. While these are worthwhile, they do not give students the satisfaction of being involved with the end-to-end life cycle of a complex engineering project, from conceptual design, through integration and test, actual operation of the system and concluding with a post-mission summary and debrief.

What to Expect

This undergraduate team collaborates with the AEM Senior Design class and meets once a week. Completely student led, students can expect to meet and collaborate on developing a design for the annual project they are going to build. This will involve creating documentation, physically building the design, putting it through testing, and gaining real world skills valuable to the industry. Once the project is complete, CanSat team has the opportunity to travel and compete nation-wide in the AIAA Canister Satellite design competition.

The group is under the AIAA student chapter umbrella who hosts community engaging events such as trivia night, Root Beer Float Social, and working a booth at the Minnesota State Fair. Opportunities to build lifelong connections are plentiful!

CanSat Sattelite


CanSat Team has been preoccupied building many devices over the years. Previous projects have focused on releasing mono-copters, which are maple seed shaped, self-stabilizing devices, and designs that sample the air on the way to the ground to measure pollution. Last year, the team managed to carefully work via Zoom and limited contact. This year, the team is still following university guidelines but should be meeting on campus regularly to facilitate meetings.

CanSat is an extremely engaging and challenging group. Not only do you have to construct a fully working and integrated design, you also must go through the process of an engineering product from start to finish.

“Both of these tasks aren’t easy, and from them I learned important skills that I will use after college. I also enjoyed meeting others and I was proud that we were able to call the ending product our idea.” – 2020 CanSat Team Lead

Anyone interested in joining CanSat Team can contact Nathan Pharis at or email AIAA CanSat Group at

CanSat Satellite canister