The first and only Icelandic astronaut teaches a course at RU


Bjarni Tryggvason, the first and only Icelandic astronaut (to date) will be teaching a new course at RU late November and December. The course, Space Systems Design, will be one of RU´s School of Science and Engineering´s three-week courses which are held after exams every semester. The three week courses present theory through practice and/or an experienced guest lecturer from industry.

Bjarni completed his training with NASA and has been an Adjunct professor at several universities, lecturing  in dynamics, aerodynamics, applied mathematics and space systems design. He is also a very experienced flight isntructor and test pilot. He has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and developed systems used at the International Space Station (ISS), NASA, and the Russian Space Station MIR. Bjarni is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NASA Space Flight medal, the Order of the Falcon from Iceland, honorary doctoral degrees from Western University, University of Victoria and the University of Iceland, and the Deans Engineering Medal, UBC. He was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1945 and moved to Canada in 1953.

Bjarni-Tryggvason-vid-flugvelBjarni Tryggvason is a trained astronaut and an experienced test-pilot.

"This past March I was in Iceland for a couple of weeks working with ISAVIA on getting flight testing back into operation at the Keflavik airport. I was essentially acting as a facilitator between ISAVIA and the major airline manufacturers (Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Gulfstream, Embraer, Dassault). It happened that Reykjavik University had an open house one Saturday in March and I came to that, as well as the similar event at the University of Iceland, just to see what there was. I spent some time taking with some students about some of the senior year projects they work on. Through that I met Ari Jonsson, and those discussions lead to my coming to teach specialty courses at RU. This is something I explored some years ago but have been too busy to do it. I am thrilled that it will now happen," says Bjarni. 

"The course is an introduction to space systems design. I am optimistic that I will work with some good students, and that this may in time lead to Iceland becoming involved in some space activities. This will not be a first as Ari Jonsson president of RU spent a few years working at NASA Ames South of San Francisco, and, of course, I have done a few things in space. But we should see in years to come a few more Icelanders participating in space based projects. I am looking forward to working with the students and introducing them to the many things that can be done in space and from space."

As it says in the course description, it will cover the requirements for mechanical, thermal, electronic and control design for space based hardware. These topics will be covered to an extent related to the background of the students. Students will gain experience in the design of space systems through a group project leading to the preliminary design of selected space hardware. The course is a design oriented course with all assignments directed at design of specific elements of a sub-system of one overall class project. Thorough engineering analysis will be a key part of the design. The majority of the evaluation is based on the presentations made by the student on their design progress and on the final report on their subsystem. The specific projects will be decided in the early part of the course. In previous years the projects have included a Moon rover, a Lunar transit spacecraft and a small launch vehicle. An option could be to design an experiment payload for operation on the ISS.

Admission requirements

Students should have completed at least two years in BSc Mechanical, Electrical, or Mechatronics Engineering; or in Physics; or in equivalent disciplines. The course is also open to graduated engineers. Please contact the office of RU´s School of Science and Engineering project managers for more information (see below). More information about the course can be found in the online catalogue (under MSc in Electrical Engineering).

Hjördís Lára Hreinsdóttir

Project Manager

Tel: +354 599 6480

Súsanna María B. Helgadóttir

Project Manager

Tel: +354 599 6482