Alex Hirzel Helps Build Winning Satellite

Michigan Tech's "Oculus" to be launched into orbit

HOUGHTON, MICH. (02/04/2011)(readMedia)-- Alex Hirzel, a 2008 L'Anse Area Schools graduate, is a member of the Michigan Technological University Aerospace Enterprise team, which took first place in the prestigious University Nanosat 6 competition.

By winning Nanosat 6, the team earned the privilege of having the Department of Defense launch their custom-made satellite into orbit.

"This is a major accomplishment by our students," said William Predebon, chair of the University's Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. "It's just fantastic."

Hirzel, a third-year student majoring in Electrical Engineering, is the son of Elizabeth Hirzel.

The University Nanosat Program is sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, which handpicked 11 university teams from dozens of applicants across the nation. Each of those 11 teams was then awarded a two-year contract to design and build a small satellite ("nanosat") to perform a mission of its choosing. The program culminated with a flight competition review, held Jan. 16-17 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Michigan Tech's 154-pound satellite, Oculus-ASR, was engineered to help the Department of Defense gather information on satellites.

Michigan Technological University ( is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.