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Space Systems Engineering Certificate

General Information

The Space Systems Engineering Certificate Program is primarily designed for students in the College of Engineering who wish to be recognized for completing a core set of courses in space systems engineering-related topics and for participating in a space-systems project. The project work is to be documented through a report. This certificate program, under the direction of, and jointly administered by the electrical engineering department’s Communications and Space Sciences Laboratory (CSSL) and the aerospace engineering department, is designed to help prepare students for a career in the space industry. It is also relevant to students with an interest in systems engineering and who wish to bolster their credentials.

The program is directed primarily at junior- and senior-level undergraduate students in engineering. However, applications from interested graduate students as well as students outside engineering will be considered, provided they have completed the appropriate prerequisite courses or their equivalent. Applicants will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and will need approval from both the student’s department and the Space Systems Engineering Certificate director.


Upon completion of this space systems engineering certificate a student will:

  • Be better prepared (in terms of breadth and depth of knowledge) to enter the space industry
  • Have experienced a hands-on project involving the application of learned principles
  • Have a better understanding of (a) systems approach to engineering; (b) several technical subjects related to space systems; and (c) processes and procedures for development of space hardware;
  • Have experienced working in multifunctional and multidisciplinary teams


Students wishing to participate in the certificate program must complete and submit an application indicating how they plan to meet the certificate requirements. Students are highly encouraged to submit the application to the director of the program as soon as possible once they have made the decision to complete the certificate. The application must be received, however, before the project work is completed to ensure an appropriate level of rigor in project work and proper systems focus.

The minimum number of credits required is 12, with no fewer than nine credits at the 400- (or 500-) level (which may include the project work). Certificate requirements are summarized in the table below. All students must complete significant hands-on, project-based work on a space systems project and submit a report of their work to the certificate director. Students also will be required to take E E 497E—Space Systems Engineering Seminar (1), offered annually in the fall semester. A minimum of two space systems-related courses must be selected from a list of appropriate courses. The remainder of the requirements may be met by taking any of a number of recommended supporting courses approved by the certificate director.

Space Systems Engineering Certificate Requirements
Requirement Description/Options Credits
Seminar E E 497E Space Systems Engineering Seminar (this course will be converted to E E/AERSP 475) 1
Project Report submitted adhering to SPSYS Certificate formatting and systems content guidelines (Note: Fewer than credits of project work may only be selected by co-op students) 0-3
6 credits of space systems-focused courses at 400 level (or above*) Courses from list maintained by certificate director 6
Remainder of credits May include up to 3 credits of internship/co-op credits when work is in space systems area (Note: 9 total credits must be at the 400 level (or above*) 2-5
*Schreyer Honors students and seniors with at least 92 credits and a 3.5 cumulative GPA may schedule a graduate course with approval of the course instructor. Other undergraduate students wishing to schedule a graduate course need the approval of his/her adviser and the course instructor.

Project Requirements

The hands-on project component is the core requirement for the Space Systems Engineering Certificate. This project work may be completed as part of a 296/496 independent study, 494(H) thesis research, a projects-based course (e.g., AERSP 497K—Aerospace Engineering Projects), or another pre-arranged method (e.g., as part of a work experience or internship). Many projects are available through the Student Space Programs Lab. The report should adhere to graduate school thesis formatting guidelines (see PsuThesi) with the SPSYS title page. A significant portion of the report must be a systems engineering analysis of the project. The properly formatted, signed report is due no later than the Monday of the last week of classes in the semester the student plans to graduate.

Co-op experience with a space systems company may be used to meet the certificate’s credit requirements. This must be approved by the certificate director, and co-op reports must be forwarded to the certificate director as well as the Co-op Program. If project work at the space systems company is to be used to meet the project requirement, it is incumbent on the candidate to get approvals from the company that their report may be released to the public and does not contain proprietary information.

Application Process

To apply, complete and submit the Space Systems Engineering Certificate Application Form.

Contact Information

Dr. Sven G. Bilén

Director, Space Systems Engineering Certificate

Associate Professor of Engineering Design, Electrical Engineering, and Aerospace Engineering

213N Hammond Building

University Park, PA 16802

814-863-1526 |