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"Satellite Swarm" Cornell Engineering Essay


melkorthefoul 13 / 31  
Dec 26, 2010   #1
Engineers turn ideas (technical, scientific, mathematical) into reality. Tell us about an engineering idea you have or your interest in engineering. Explain how Cornell Engineering can help you further explore this idea or interest.

Energy is everything. The one thing holding civilization back is the lack of energy - with sufficient energy, we could colonize Antarctica, the bottom of the ocean, and even the solar system. Closer to the present, the lack of a stable energy source is proving to be detrimental to human progress, as we are threatened by global warming and decreased output of oil. One of my ideas, therefore, is to harness the largest source of energy available to us: the Sun. Now, you might be wondering where I am going with this, as solar cell technology has been around for some time. Indeed, solar cells have been deployed on the planet's surface previously, but this form of deployment suffers from several flaws, most notably the limited space available and the fact that the Sun remains obscured either by cloud cover, or the planet itself for well over 50% of the time. Therefore, I propose to create a sphere of solar cell-bearing satellites with the Sun at its centre, which will effectively harness much of the Sun's total energy output. The total energy collected by this network will be several orders of magnitude greater than the energy requirements of the entire planet, which will provide for humanity's energy needs for the foreseeable future.

If this idea can ever be implemented, it will require all forms of engineering - materials engineering to improve the design of solar cells, aerospace engineering to design guidance systems for the satellites, nano-engineering to construct the various components, and possibly even to nano-assembly plants on asteroids, computer engineering to design the control systems for the satellite swarm... and Cornell is the ideal place for me to gain the necessary training in at least one of these fields. The opportunity to gain experience working on research projects such as CUSat will be invaluable in not only giving me experience in the real world, but will also allow me to design technologies which could have potential applications in making my idea a reality.

I'm a bit unsure about the second paragraph... does it really put my point forward?

Thanks :D
IBstudent0786 1 / 4  
Dec 27, 2010   #2
This is an awesome idea and a brilliant way to answer the prompt. Being a non-techie, I clearly get your point, so good job! You need just minute changes in grammar:

Energy is everything. The one thing holding civilization back is the lack of energy. W ith sufficient energy, we could colonize Antarctica, the bottom of the ocean, and even other parts of the solar system. In modern times(better word choice), the lack of a stable energy source is proving to be detrimental to human progress, as we are being threatened by global warming and decreased output of oil. One of my ideas, therefore, is to harness the largest source of energy available to us: the Sun. Now, you might be wondering where I am going with this, as solar cell technology has been around for some time. Indeed, solar cells have been deployed on the planet's surface previously, but this form of deployment suffers from several flaws, most notably the limited space available and the fact that the Sun remains obscured either by cloud cover, or the planet itself for well over 50% of the time. Therefore, I propose to create a sphere of solar cell-bearing satellites with the Sun at its centre, which will effectively harness much of the Sun's total energy output. The total energy collected by this network will be several orders of magnitude greater than the energy requirements of the entire planet, which will provide for humanity's energy needs for the foreseeable future. (I hope all of these facts you have mentioned are thoroughly researched. A great idea would be to cite the location of where you got these facts)

If this idea can ever be implemented, it will require all forms of engineering - materials engineering to improve the design of solar cells, aerospace engineering to design guidance systems for the satellites, nano-engineering to construct the various components, and(possibly even to nano-assembly plants on asteroids), and computer engineering to design the control systems for the satellite swarm. I believe Cornell is the ideal place for me to gain the necessary training in at least one of these fields and make strong connections with people who are well-educated in these various departments . (just a suggestion if you want to include it) I find that the phenomenal opportunity to gain experience by working on research projects such as CUSat will be priceless in not only giving me experience in the real world, but by also allowing me to design technologies which could have potential applications in making my idea into a reality.
Doom 13 / 37 2  
Dec 29, 2010   #3
Melkor, i think you should downscale your idea just a bit...

Dont be mislead by the prompt! it is not one question, it is two.

The first question is of course your intellectually engaging idea.
The second is "why cornell"

You answered the first question very well. But you are lacking considerably in the second.

You really have to explain why cornell can help you on your goal. It cant just be because they have a good engineering program because lets face it, a lot of other universities have just as good if not better engineering programs.

Be specific!

I think also you should think about condensing your first problem down, maybe even changing it to a certain extent. It seems too big of a problem to be adequately explained with the word count you have.


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