Three, two, one, lift-off!

October 5, 2017
Engineering Hall

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – It’s not every day that one is accepted to participate as a team member at a research organization funded by NASA. However, University of Wisconsin-Platteville student Stuart Oliphant had the opportunity to experience this honor earlier this year. Oliphant spent the summer months at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he was accepted as a 2016-17 Elijah Balloon Payload Team Fellowship award recipient on behalf of the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium. This award required him to work on the Elijah Balloon Payload as well as give a presentation at the 27th annual Wisconsin Space Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

There were six team members working on the Elijah Balloon Fellowship. “The task was to design, build and execute a study of the upper atmosphere of the earth by high-altitude weather balloon,” said Oliphant. The team worked on three different ideas in relation to the weather balloon. According to Oliphant these three ideas were: “parasitic power to see if sensors could be powered via payload movement during flight, model the dynamics of the balloon to predict burst height, and a bug-astronaut safely transported to the stratosphere.” Oliphant led the bug-astronaut project and designed the chamber where the bug-astronaut would be housed.

At the 27th annual Wisconsin Space Conference, Oliphant and fellow team members presented on the Elijah Balloon Payload Project and heard reports of other WSGC groups. There was also a poster presentation and question and answer session. The Pioneer Rocketry team also participated at this conference. The poster is now housed in the science building on the MSOE campus.

Oliphant feels “at home” back on the UW-Platteville campus where he is finishing his mechanical engineering degree. “It’s that familiar small town feel,” he said. As for his career, Oliphant said that he learned a lot during this experience that will help him in the future. “Working with various group dynamics was a challenge, but it prepared me for the workforce,” he said.

Written by: Olivia Joehl, Student Writer, Communications, 608-342-1194,


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