Anderson Clark Magnet High School

About the team

Anderson Clark Magnet High School (La Crescenta, California) is studying whether local encampments are in high-risk wildfire areas, with the goal of helping the local fire department to save lives of people without housing.

The Honors GIS & Remote Sensing class at Clark Magnet is building a CubeSat prototype with infrared sensors to map homeless encampments within high fire-risk areas. The remotely sensed data will be rendered into 3D mosaics using Drone2Map software. Full Motion Video will simultaneously show the moving location of the CubeSat and a video from the sensor point of view. ArcGIS mapping software will be used to determine suitable locations for the project, considering variables such as FAA regulations, fire risk, and open spaces. The results of this project will be shared with the Los Angeles City Fire Department to inform them of the number and location of homeless people in these areas. This will help first responders plan rescue efforts in the event of a wildfire or other natural disaster.

Clark Magnet is a science and technology public magnet school within the Glendale Unified School District. It is a Title 1 high-performing school with a 93.6% score for college and career readiness. The Honors GIS and Remote Sensing class is part of the award-winning Geospatial Technologies Career Technical Education pathway.

CTE Team Lead

Dominique Evans-Bye, CTE GIS & Remote Sensing Teacher

Learn more

Keep up with the team’s progress

Clark CubeSat team making steady progress

March update

What major questions do you hope to answer from testing your prototype? How have mentors helped you refine these questions?

During the testing phase, we hope to ensure communication between our prototype’s components and subsystems, such as initiation of sensors and data storage. We also need to evaluate sensors and determine the best altitude range for data collection. Finally, we will still need to incorporate automation of the subsystems and data storage.

What has your team learned about the importance of testing, and what career-ready skills have you applied during this process?

Our team has learned that once you’ve built the CubeSat you designed, you are not finished. Engineering is an iterative process and you rarely get it right the first time.

Communication is a career-ready skill that we’ve applied during this process. Since we are working entirely remotely, team members need to reach out to classmates whose work interfaces with their part of the project. Networking is another career-ready skill we’ve used. We have found people working in aerospace engineering, firefighting, and remote sensing who have all contributed advice and/or equipment to our project. Finally, we believe self-reliance is the most important career-ready skill that the team is employing. There is no cookbook or instruction manual for this project. We are on our own to use the resources provided, troubleshoot, and problem-solve independently before reaching out for help.

While testing your prototype, what has surprised you? How have you revised your research question or mission plans based on unexpected results?

We’ve been surprised at how slow the process of working remotely can be. Students have plenty of work to do at school and home in order to meet our timeline. Unexpectedly, we have not returned to the classroom at this point to work on the project as a team. We had hoped to have flown an initial mission already by this point, but had to push back flight plans. However, what we have done so far seems to be successful.

Pre-flight mapping commences as build is delayed

February update

What aspects of the build and design process did you begin with when starting Phase 2 and how has your mission changed since your original submission?

Our phase two build is still in the planning stage. When we received our complete XinaBox kit on February 24, we went through all the components and repackaged them by flight stations and ground stations. In order to give each student an engineering component of the project, we created a spreadsheet and had students sign up for a role that interested them. Since there weren’t enough actual CubeSat build roles for the project, we had to be creative and come up with roles related to other aspects of the project mission. Each role allows students to experience the engineering design process and contribute to our story:

  • XinaBox flight station: Gabriela and Daniel
  • XinaBox ground station: Daniel and Matthew
  • Arduino: Matthew
  • DIY night vision cell phone: Vahe, Gabriela, Rita, Hakob, and Karlo
  • 3D printing and frame construction: Taline
  • LEGO Spike Prime set: Karmela and Roi

As part of our planning, students mapped our study area and did a site suitability model. We found that the area we planned to fly the CubeSat is within an FAA UAS Controlled Airspace, which does not allow any unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to be flown. Knowing that the site in mind is otherwise perfect for our mission, we found weather balloons online that we will use to carry our CubeSat. We will keep the balloon tethered to avoid collision with aircraft. 

Further analysis did identify other potential locations that will allow us to fly the CubeSat on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). We have been ground truthing these locations for the presence of homeless encampments.

Can you tell us about your team, including: who is on it, the roles everyone plays, the connection to CTE, and mentors you have engaged?

We have 12 students in the CTE Honors GIS & Remote Sensing class. Students were asked to choose one or more building roles for the project; each has a mapping and analysis role for the project. After starting with a site suitability analysis for conducting mission flight operations, students used ArcGIS Online to map past fire perimeters, fire risk, airports, controlled airspaces, open spaces, and known homeless numbers within a 15-mile radius of our school. The results identified a number of different locations where we could use a UAS to carry our CubeSat. 

We have engaged with mentors from Lockheed Martin to help with 3D printing and Raytheon to discuss actual satellite construction and objectives in industry. 

What have you learned so far? What early successes have you encountered while designing and building your prototype? What challenges?

So far, we have learned that we cannot fly a UAV where we originally planned to conduct flight operations. Students have not yet picked up supplies from school to start their build. Some students are learning the GIS (geographic information system) programs we plan to use to document our mission. Those using school computers through our Splashtop remote program are having difficulty working with the large imagery files in Drone2Map, while those who were able to download the programs at home and run them off home computers have had no problem creating 2D and 3D mosaics of UAV collected imagery. Most students were able to run the Full Motion Video application to create an interactive map animating a flight path on one screen and a window showing the video from the UAV point of view on the other. The GIS components described here will be included in our final flight report using data from our CubeSat mission.