Minor in Space Science and Engineering

Welcome to the Student Handbook for the Minor in Space Science and Engineering (hereafter “the Minor”). The website will tell you about the Minor and its requirements. Also included are a set of sample programs, a list of suggested courses, and information about potential internships.

The Minor is open to all students in the Whiting School of Engineering and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences who have the prerequisites for the required courses.

The objective of the Minor is to prepare students for a career in space science and space engineering, either directly as an entering professional in industry, government laboratories, and other organizations, or as a student in a graduate program. The educational goal of the Minor is to enable you to:

Requirements for the Minor

The Minor seeks to achieve the goals discussed above by requiring:

Course Requirements

Specified Course:

The specified course is 171.321 Introduction to Space Science and Technology. The prerequisites are Physics 171.101-102 or a similar engineering course and Calculus 110.108-109. The course carries 3 credits. The course is co-listed by the Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Materials Science, and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Proposal and Course Plan for the Four Courses:

To ensure that the program is a coherent intellectual activity, you are required to submit a Proposal and Course Plan to your Adviser early in their program, prior to taking the courses. The Proposal and Course Plan will identify a theme that describes the educational goal that you will pursue through your course of study and a list of courses, including alternates, to achieve your goal. Examples of such themes could be “Remote observations of the earth and planets from space vehicles” or “Spacecraft design for astronomy missions.” Examples of potential course programs are listed in Section 5 below. A list of suggested candidate courses is listed in Section 6 below. If consistent with the Proposal and Course Plan theme, you may use other courses with the permission of your Adviser. The Course Plan should contain alternative courses in recognition that every course may not be taught every year.

The Proposal should also include ideas for completing the internship requirement discussed below.

Additional Requirements on the Four Courses

Internship or Equivalent Experience

Practical experience in space science and space engineering can be obtained through an academic internship, non-academic internship or an equivalent experience. This practical experience can be acquired by at least six weeks of full-time effort or the equivalent effort spread over a longer period. This can take place during a summer or during the academic year.

Academic Internships

The Undergraduate Student Handbook describes the regulations governing academic internships. You may find the following quoted material from the Handbook helpful:

Non-academic Internships

These internships are offered by non-academic organizations such as the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Applied Physics Laboratory, and a number of NASA laboratories to provide undergraduate students practical work experience in space science and space engineering. These internships often carry a stipend and are not eligible for academic credit.

Opportunities within the university include the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Center for Astrophysical Sciences, the Space Telescope Science Institute, as well as individual professors and research staff. In addition, local laboratories and companies, such as NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital Sciences, and other private corporations offer excellent opportunities for internships and summer work experiences.

Equivalent Experiences

Other activities that meet the spirit of the requirement may be accepted. For example, employment opportunities, often in the summer, can provide practical experience in space science and space engineering.

Prior Approval Required

The student is responsible for identifying and arranging the internship or equivalent experience. However, in order to count toward the Minor, it must be approved in advance by the Adviser. In general, the Adviser will require that the mentor or supervisor be either a space scientist or space engineer.

Required Report on the Internship or Work Experience

In order to have it count toward the Minor, the student must provide a brief report (typically one page) describing the internship or equivalent experience to the Adviser at the beginning of the semester immediately following the activity. The report should give the name of the organization or laboratory (e.g., STScI, JHU-APL, NASA-GSFC), the start date and duration, and the name, position, and email address of the mentor/supervisor. It should include a brief summary describing the activity, a description of new knowledge and skills learned, and information about the overall experience.

Advising for the Minor

Advanced consulting with the Adviser is crucial for success in the Minor program. At the beginning, the student will propose to the Adviser an academic program based on the Proposal and Course Plan described above. The student will plan a set of courses that meets the student’s academic objectives and satisfies the requirements for the Minor.

Subsequent changes in the Course Plan or overall educational goals for the Minor must be approved by the Adviser.

The student must have prior approval of an internship or equivalent experience in order for it to satisfy the requirement for the Minor and the Adviser must approve the report on the internship or equivalent experience.

Students in the Whiting School of Engineering and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences will have different Advisers. The Advisers are:

For Arts and Sciences:

Professor C.L. Bennett

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Bloomberg 209


For Engineering:

Professor Joseph Katz

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Latrobe 219


If you have questions or suggestions about the Minor please direct them to the above faculty. If you wish to meet with either Professor Bennett or Professor Katz, please make an appointment by emailing the appropriate faculty member.


A Degree Audit Checklist for students in both the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and in the Whiting School of Engineering can be obtained through the KSAS Undergraduate Academic Advising website.

Examples of Potential Programs

Below are examples of course programs that a student might propose. A student in the Minor must take Physics and Astronomy 171.321 Introduction to Space Science and Technology. In addition, the student will propose a program of four courses as discussed above. The courses usually will be drawn from the list in Section 6, but other courses may be used if appropriate.

Example 1

If the student is majoring in one of the engineering departments or programs and is interested in designing space missions for remote observations of the Earth or for planetary studies from space, the student might propose a four-course program drawn from the list below:

Example 2

If student is majoring in physics and astronomy or in earth and planetary sciences and is interested in a better understanding of spacecraft design and attitude control for astronomy and remote sensing of the Earth from space, the student might propose a four-course program drawn from the list below:

Example 3

An understanding of biology and its observable effects on a planet is likely to be important, both for better understanding our Earth, for the search for life on other planets (both solar and exosolar) and for the demands of the associated engineering tasks. A student interested in this area might propose the following program of four courses drawn from the list below:

Example 4

An expanding area of interdisciplinary space research is understanding the properties of Exoplanets. A student might prepare for this area by proposing a four-course program of four courses based on a list combining the courses under Examples 1 and 3.

Example 5

Communication and data management are becoming critically important in space missions. As experiments become more and more capable, the transmitted data sets are becoming very large and complex. A four-course program drawn from the list below would strengthen a student’s knowledge in this area.

Suggested Undergraduate Courses Suitable for the Minor

Students are not restricted to this list, but it represents a good starting point for constructing the Proposal and Course Plan. Based on their advising experience, the director and co-director of the Minor, from time to time, may modify the list in cooperation with the oversight committee.

Whiting School of Engineering

Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Computer Science

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Material Sciences and Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences


Earth and Planetary Sciences

Physics and Astronomy

Oversight of the Minor

A standing oversight committee, currently comprised of the following faculty, performs the oversight of the Minor: