By Tim Leeds
The electrical and electronic technical program at MSU-Northern has been busy adding national and international connections in the last few years.
The MSU-Northern department works with Stanford University in connection with programs in Tuskegee, Ala. and in Sweden for satellite tracking, and additional programs are under way.
Lloyd Stallkamp, professor of electrical and electronic engineering technology at the university, said Stanford just got its satellite launched last month. He said MSU-Northern is working as a tracking station along with the other units.
Stallkamp said they first got involved in Stanford's program about two years ago.
He said the students in the university's chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering wrote a grant with faculty advisement to receive funding for a student center. Part of the justification for the grant, Stallkamp said, was that the center would house technology for the satellite tracking systems.
Stallkamp said there are still some problems to be worked out in the new tracking program, which is not unusual in the early stages.
He said the program they use to track the satellite is identical to the one NASA uses.
"What you see here is the same as you'd see on NASA's big board," he said.
He said the program is also used by the government for satellite tracking The U.S. Air Force uses the same program extensively, he said.
Stallkamp said the MSU-Northern program is also in the initial stages of starting a satellite program with the University of North Dakota. He said the idea of this program is to focus on imaging useful to agriculture, and also on issues of global warming.
He said the program will use a student-built satellite. This program will allow the university to receive and dispense agricultural satellite information almost immediately to area producers, he said.
Gonzaga University in Spokane and Montana State University-Bozeman as well as several tribal colleges are also involved in the program, Stallkamp said.
Stallkamp said the university's electrical and electronic engineering technology program's two-year degree has recently been accredited by ABET, which is the top accreditation for technical programs. He said MSU-Northern's is the only two-year degree with ABET accreditation in the state.
"It took us about six or eight years to get there," Stallkamp said. "Our next goal is to get our four-year program accredited."
He said both he and Larry Strizich, the other professor in the department, have computer experience in their backgrounds. He said they are increasing the use of computer technology in the department.
Part of this is because of their experience in computers, and part of it is for the accreditation he said. Part of it is also for the students' education, he said.