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Teams Announced for Inaugural USM Cubesat Design Competition

photo of Cubesat model

The University of Southern Maine announced more than a dozen Maine middle and high schools will compete in the first-ever USM Cubesat Design Competition (UCDC) this spring for the opportunity to build and test student-designed microsatellites in a high-altitude balloon flight. Cube satellites, or “cubesats,” are a class of small cube-shaped research spacecraft (typically weighing less than 3 lbs.) that have created a new era of space discovery as well as hands-on STEM education opportunities for K-12 and college students. 

UCDC brings together teams of students in grades 6-12 from schools across Maine to conceptualize, plan and present original payload designs to a panel of space industry experts. This year, students will focus on designing high-altitude, functioning micro-satellite missions. The top three teams will advance to a build and test phase, where they will bring their designs to life using 3D printing technology, and deploy their cubesats via high-altitude balloon. Student teams are led by a faculty advisor from each school. Due to the active COVID-19 pandemic, UCDC is being conducted virtually and in accordance with public health guidelines. 

Competing in the first-ever UCDC this year are:

  • Bangor High School
  • Portland High School
  • South Portland Area Schools
  • Noble Middle School
  • Maranacook High School and Middle School
  • Lincoln Middle School
  • Yarmouth High School
  • Falmouth High School
  • Winslow High School
  • Windham High School
  • Fryeburg Academy

As Maine carves out a place for itself in the space industry, USM has been at the forefront of developing cubesat technology and cultivating STEM opportunities for local students. In the fall of 2020, USM partnered with the Maine Space Consortium to hold the first of a series of NASA-funded cubesat workshops attended by several Maine high schools. Additionally, USM faculty have various cubesat-related initiatives currently underway. USM is one of several institutions working collaboratively toward Maine’s ultimate goal of establishing a spaceport from which to launch satellites into orbit, as Maine is the only place on the eastern seaboard where this is feasible.

UCDC is led by USM engineering faculty Dr. Scott J. Eaton and Dr. Asheesh Ravikumar Lanba.

Dr. Eaton engages in cross-cutting research to improve the efficiency and reduce emissions within our energy and transportation systems. His focus areas include alternative fuels processing, high efficiency clean combustion and exhaust aftertreatment catalysis.

Dr. Lanba teaches materials science and mechanics-based courses at USM and conducts research in advanced materials, laser ablation tomography (LATscan) and image analysis. He is also leading the USM effort to absorb the Composites Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), a non-profit analytical laboratory that offers expertise for manufacturing, process development and optimization for different kinds of materials.

For more information about UCDC 2021, visit or contact Dr. Scott Eaton at