New interdisciplinary engineering design course in planetary materials and resource utilization

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences; Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


A new senior/graduate-level course addressing topics of planetary materials and resource utilization was given at Michigan Technological University in the spring of '89. The purpose of the course was to increase interest in the future of space colonization and related engineering, to galvanize a working group of faculty from diverse fields interested in collaborative research, and to initiate an interdisciplinary undergraduate/graduate program in space-related studies. Development of the course required the concerted, coordinated effort of a core group of faculty from several departments. Since no similar course could be found to use as a guide, we concentrated on addressing topics fundamental to permanent, self-sustained extraterrestrial bases, with particular emphasis on utilizing indigenous materials and resources, and on processing these materials under low-gravity and vacuum conditions. The success of the course was largely due to 13 visiting speakers from NASA, USGS, universities and private companies.