Solar Eclipse Capstone Project

Engineering students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi collected valuable atmospheric data from the total solar eclipse on April 9, 2024, for their senior capstone project. The students, who traveled to San Antonio for the project, included Hoang Wong ’24, industrial engineering major; Skylar Martin ’24, mechanical engineering major; Garrett Martin ’24, mechanical engineering technology major; Marcelino Beltran Sanchez ’24, mechanical engineering major; George Hernandez ’24, mechanical engineering technology major, and Stephen Dennis ’24, civil engineering major. The advisor for the project was Dr. Ruby Mehrubeoglu, TAMU-CC Professor of Engineering.

The first step of the project was to properly attach various “Internet of Things” (IoT) sensors to a large helium balloon. The sensors could test for temperature, pressure, ultraviolet light, and wind speed. Once the balloon was launched into the stratosphere, a radio wave technology called an Automatic Packet Retrieval System (APRS) transmitted the data to a satellite and then to the internet in real time.

The group launched the balloon exactly an hour and thirty-three minutes before the eclipse, so that the height of the helium lift reached 100,000 feet at the time of the eclipse. Once the balloon collected the data, it was pulled down. With the collected data, atmospheric science researchers can study its impact on climate change and weather patterns before the next total solar eclipse in 2044.

Despite facing setbacks, such as delays in acquiring research permits, the team demonstrated resilience and adaptability. Members of the team are thankful for the guidance and insight they have gained as students at the Island University.

"While attending Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, I learned how to professionally communicate and ensure that I get my point across in an organized way,” Dennis said. “Learning how to engage with professors, email formatting, and public speaking are a large portion of industry communication, so I will continue implementing that after graduation.” 

”TAMU-CC professors have knowledgeable industry experience, which really stands out to me,” Martin said. “For instance, several professors have worked as engineers, so going into their classes, we are taught class material but also mentored on industry expectations.”

Photos from the solar eclipse capstone project

Slideshow of the solar eclipse capstone project