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Excursions - NASA Tour

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
14.11.2022, Arthur Sommer & Cosma Heckel

photos Cosmas blog  Rovernauts Launchreports  Raumfahrt Concret  Werner-Heisenberg-School

Today we visited Embry Riddle University to get a sense of our own future. Jasleen Josan Kaur already studied at this university and Sakurako Kuba is currently. Both are former students of our school and now role models for us.

erau01campusIn the middle of the night, there was a sudden clatter in our room. A soda can fell from the shelf. Since it was not too long until sunrise, we decided to watch it. 6.44 o'clock it should be so far, however, a thick cloud layer at the horizon covered the first sunbeams. We didn't mind, though, since after a few minutes it emerged from behind the red-orange edges of the clouds.

Just in time for breakfast, we arrived at the room. A few minutes later, the hotel manager greeted us with her daughter. Valencia is 11 years old and also excited about space travel. That's why we agreed yesterday at check-in that we could take her with us today. As a thank you, her mother gave us a bigger room, because until now we lived in a quite small room. That is very nice of her.

erau02Shortly after 9am we got in the car and drove north to Daytona for about an hour. When we arrived at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University campus, everything looked very new and modern. Ralf says he could hardly recognize anything compared to 4 years ago. Even though there are many huge parking lots for the many students, we had to search for a while until we found a free parking space. We went to the Welcome Center of the university, while we were waiting for Sakurako Kuba. She is studying here and agreed to accompany us besides the normal tours, as well as to provide more insights.

She was running a little late due to a meeting and the crowded parking lots, but she finally came through the door. Now we were ready to go. Our guides were students Caroline and Madison. Both are studying for Homeland Security here. Caroline specifically in terrorism and children.
After a brief verbal overview of the campus, we headed to the Engineering Building at 11:40am, which is across the street from the Welcome Center. There we could see many classrooms, club areas and more. Here you can study civil, electrical, computer, mechanical, physiology, software development, and aerospace engineering, among others. We peeked into isolated classrooms and were told about the Rocket Club, as well as the Eco-Car competition. We passed the local supercomputer, the wind channel, IT seminar rooms, workshops, material storage and exhibition rooms until we stopped in front of a concrete model airplane. Caroline explained to us the complexity of the construction and that the light variants of concrete can be particularly efficient and stable if they are processed correctly.

Inside of the Engeneering College.

Amazed, we left the building and walked across campus to the College of Arts and Science, which is particularly eye-catching due to the round observatory on the roof. This building has the largest telescope in the southeastern U.S. with 1m diameter mirrors. Astronomy, applied mathematics, physics, and social studies are among the subjects taught there. While we unfortunately did not enter this building, it was apparent that many students attend these classes, as the skateboard racks in front of the entrance were fully occupied.

Short explanation: Since the campus is flat and large, most students move around with the help of (electric) longboards or (e-)scooters. To secure these in front of the entrance, there are also skateboard racks instead of bike racks.

The campus area was well filled, as was the Union Center, which became our next stop as a break had just begun. This building is located in the middle of campus and it looks like a futuristic spaceship on the outside as well as the inside. After the main entrance, you find yourself in a dining hall. In the middle of the hall you can look up to the glass roof. If you go up the stairs, you will find a study area with open but also private spaces for the students. On the third floor is a large library equipped with soundproof glass. This is already where our tour ended. We said goodbye to Madison and Caroline and sat down in the dining hall.

Inside of the Student Union Center. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)

After lunch, we walked with Sakurako to the Aviation Maintenance Building, which is located next to the university's airfield. This belongs to the Daytona Beach International Airport, which we consider quite impressive. On the roof terrace, from which you can overlook the whole airfield with the regularly starting small Cessnas, but also large aircraft. Not far away, behind the airfield, we saw the Daytona International Speedway. There the worldwide known Nascar races are held.

Suddenly, in a friendly voice in a familiar language, a "Hello you guys, you're from Germany too!" came up. It was a young exchange student from Stuttgart named Laurin. He is studying here, or rather also in Germany, to become a pilot. He has been here since August this year and seems to have had a lot of good experiences. We walked a little bit with him until it was time for our 2 p.m. Aviation Tour.

Meeting german exchange student Laurin at Aviation Maintenance Center. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)

This also started at the Welcome Center, from where we took a short detour to the Student Union and finally entered the Aviation Maintenance Building.

There we visited both floors of the building. The first floor was mainly occupied by teaching and material rooms. In addition to weather stations, there are also technical seminars for international students. We especially noticed the altitude trainer (hypoxia training), which every prospective pilot has to pass at least 4-5 times.

On the second floor there were primarily seminars and simulators that dealt with aeronautical science. We walked past many rooms where lectures were being given and students were studying. We then stopped in a room full of screens where prospective air traffic controllers were training. Jamie introduced a few of them and explained that all the procedures shown on the screens are live and real. The students use them to practice their skills.

Jamie talking about Tower Simulation at floor 2 in Aviation Maintenance. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)

On the third and last floor, everything revolved around the weather. Right at the beginning there was a weather studio which was equipped with a green screen. This is where the university's own weather forecasts are recorded and shared internally. Many well-known weather presenters have already graduated from this university, as Jamie explained. As the walk continued, students were trained in weather forecasting, map reading, and reporting. In the process, we learned a thing or two as well.

14:40 we moved to Flight Operations across the hall. From here, students sign in for their flight lessons, are briefed, receive feedback, and enter the airfield. Also located here is the university's communications tower, which of course is also run by students.

The last thing we looked at was the Advanced Flight Simulation Center. There are numerous simulators, some extremely advanced, that you can use to train at any time of day and in any weather. This is great for beginners or training with flying conditions in snow that don't normally exist in Florida. However, some require certain flight licenses to be able to use them. Because even if you already know how to fly, you need more skill to be able to pilot larger types of aircraft. We looked at the other rooms before we left this building as well.


Teamphoto with Tourguide Jamie. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)Palm-Avenue at Embry-Riddle Universtity. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)At the end of our tour, we were back on Palm Avenue, which is located between the Student Union and the flight training buildings we had just visited. After a photo with Jamie, our visit was coming to an end. Before, Jesco was eager to get some exercise, so we went to the campus' nearby fitness center. There, in addition to the typical gym equipment, there are several climbing walls that extend over two floors.

Thus, we had explored all the major facilities and now made our way to the parking lot. Afterwards we drove back over the Interstate 95, a large highway comparable with the A4 from Germany, back to Cocoa Beach. There we met the hotel manager again and said goodbye to Valencia. A little later Valeria Vazquez Zafra arrived, whom we were expecting by now. It was nice to see her again.

With her arrival and an evening visit to the beach we let the day end.


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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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