York University's ESSENCE team is hard at work on its CubeSat, despite the challenges of the last year. The students on the team are also preparing for the critical design review, which, as the name suggests, is held at a critical point in the process to give the team the last go/no-go before production. With this impressive workload, they still took the time to answer our questions.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health measures in your area affected your work?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on our project. We lost access to our ground station, the labs, and the testing facilities over the entire summer. We are still unable to access them.
Has the situation changed the way you work as a team? Did your team develop coping mechanisms or new processes as a result?
Team meetings are now fully online, which means that we are able to meet more frequently for shorter periods of time. We also started to conduct meetings just for team leads. Those helped us keep everyone on the same page about each subsystem's progress and became an opportunity for us to share resources, support each other, and help lead our team members. Some of our team leads have also organized "online office hours," which is an amazing way to support our team members and answer their questions.
Are you planning on keeping those measures in place even if the situation comes back to normal?
We will definitely continue to host general online meetings and the team-leads' meetings, as those have increased our efficiency and helped us keep each other on track during these isolating times.
Could you identify one positive change/impact on your team brought by this new situation?
The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to have more flexible meeting times and has given us time to work on our social media outreach.
How is your CubeSat project going right now?
Good. Currently, we are focusing on getting the critical design review documentation ready. The extra time given to prepare has been very helpful to our team.