CURCA Research Ambassador Story: Seamus Lombardo

Posted by CURCA on February 14, 2018 in News & Announcements

When and how did you first become involved with an undergraduate research project?

I first became involved with undergraduate research through the UB Nanosat Lab (UBNL) when I was a freshman. There was a steep learning curve when I first started, but the chance to start building experience early on in my undergraduate experience was very beneficial.

Describe your undergraduate research project.

The undergraduate research project that I have been involved in is the UB Nanosat Lab (UBNL) listed on CURCA’s website as “Nanosatellite Design, Testing And Fabrication”. We are a multi-disciplinary lab that builds satellites for the Air Force and NASA. When I first started on the team I was a member of our Attitude Determination and Control subsystem and worked on projects such as our sun sensor system and reaction wheel testing. Later, I became the Program manager of our GLADOS satellite and played a role in developing our mission and helping to move our system level testing forward.

UBNL is an opportunity to work alongside many different majors to build real spacecraft and build important engineering experience.

Explain how you obtained a CURCA $500 Undergraduate Research Award and what it was used for. How was the award beneficial to your academic experience at UB?

The CURCA grant that I obtained was used to fund my trip to present research at the IAA Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation in Berlin, Germany. At this conference I presented research on reaction wheel torque characterization that I had developed in UBNL. This CURCA grant allowed me to travel and present my research on an international stage. It was a huge asset to my professional development as I received useful feedback on my research and I made connections with professionals in government and industry.

Describe what it is like working in a lab.

Working in a lab is a fantastic educational experience. Doing research alongside other intelligent and motivated individuals is a great chance to learn from their experiences. Additionally, it’s a satisfying feeling to apply what you learn in class to real applications. My work in my lab also helped me move my career forward by developing real skills and gaining experience that helped me obtain internships and job offers.

How has your faculty mentor influenced you?

The faculty mentor for UBNL is Dr. John Crassidis. He has been a perfect mentor and role model throughout my entire undergraduate career. His extensive experience meant that he always was able to contribute meaningful technical feedback to the work in our lab. Additionally, he also provided me with useful career advice gained through his time at NASA and academia. Lastly, he was always happy to support me through recommendation letters and references so that I could obtain new and exciting opportunities.

Have you had the opportunity to present your research project? If so, please describe that experience.

I had the opportunity to present my research at both the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah and the IAA Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation in Berlin, Germany. Both of these experiences were great learning opportunities. I received feedback on my research that allowed me to push forward with my technical goals and also had the chance to develop my presentation and public speaking skills which will aid me in my career. Additionally, the chance to attend both of these conferences allowed me to learn more about the aerospace industry and network with professionals. I hope to present research at the 4S Symposium in Sorrento, Italy this May and continue to build experience and develop professionally.

How has/will this opportunity benefit you academically and/or professionally?

My undergraduate research has been the most valuable learning opportunity of my career. It has allowed me to develop as an engineer by applying what I learn in class to real problems. It also gave me the skills and experience to help build my career and obtain internship and job offers. Lastly, documenting and presenting my research at conferences has been an opportunity to further my professional development. I highly recommend getting involved in undergraduate research to help further your goals!