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MMAE Seminar - Dr. Livio Rafael Gratton - Experience of an IIT Alumnus: Space Activities in Argentina and Space Related Graduate Programs

Event Date 

March 21, 2017 - 12:45pm to 1:45pm


John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center
Room 104
10 West 32nd Street
Chicago, IL 60616


Armour College of Engineering's Mechanical, Materials & Aerospace Engineering Department will welcome Dr. Livio Rafael Gratton, Director of Colomb Research Institute, Argentine National Space Agency (CONAE) – San Martín National University (UNSAM), on Tuesday, March 21st, to present his lecture, Experience of an IIT Alumnus: Space Activities in Argentina and Space Related Graduate Programs.


The talk will address the presenter´s education at IIT´s MMAE Department and Navigation Laboratory, and its influence on his professional career.

A very brief introduction of Argentine space activities will also be presented to give context to the main topic, centered on Graduate programs to form the human resources necessary for the execution of the National Space Program (NSP).

The Argentine Space Agency (CONAE) has recognized the advantage of establishing partnerships with National Universities. The purpose is to satisfy the needs of highly specialized human resources required for the implementation of current and short term programs of the Argentine technological/scientific system participating in the NSP.

The presentation focuses on the Graduate programs functioning at CONAE´s Teófilo Tabanera Space Center (CETT) in Córdoba Province. It also presents the work and programs of the two Institutes CONAE has in partnership with National Universities.

The Masters Programs currently being taught at the CETT are: in Space Information Applications (MAIE, since 2009), in Software Development for Space Applications (MDIAE, since 2015), in Satellite Technologies (MTS, since 2015), and in Satellite Instruments (MIS, since 2015).

For each of these programs, CONAE has formed a partnership with a different University, which contributes with specialized faculty, and with the curricula, and student supervision required by the Ministry of Education.

All students and faculty, from the different careers and academic institution, permanently interact with each other, and with the personnel at the CETT working in CONAE´s projects, that act also as faculty and directing thesis works, enriching the learning process with hands on work on real on-going missions.

All students have full scholarships, and consequently must have full-time dedication for the duration of the program (two years). Besides the very demanding courses, students have two particular requirements:

  • An applied work of more than 1500 hours in a 'Development Unit' (UD). The UD is different for each student and might be inside the CETT or not, sometimes being in a different city (Bariloche, Buenos Aires, etc.). In this work, the student becomes a specialist in a topic needed by the UD that supervises him, and ideally, he can be hired afterwards in that organism or institution that helped educating him with a specific profile. The concept of UD will be explained.
  • An integrated project, demanding more than 800 hours, in which the whole cohort works as a team under the direction of the Director of the Master program, and which ideally ends in a finished element (depending on what Master it is, it will be a satellite platform, an instrument, a qualified software, or an application).

Furthermore, all four integrated projects are themselves integrated into a satellite mission, under the coordination of the Head of CONAE's Higher Education Unit.

The plans of the recently created Colomb Institute (CONAE-UNSAM) for research in advanced space technology will also be presented.


Dr. Livio Rafael Gratton received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Escuela Superior Técnica (Buenos Aires, Argentina), M.S. and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology under supervision of Prof. Pervan. Dr. Gratton has a background as Argentine Army Infantry Officer, served as a Blue Helmet under UN mandate on UNPROFOR during the Balkans conflict and received Decree of Recognition by the Argentine Congress for outstanding bravery. He joined the Argentine Space Agency in 2011 to serve as Chief of Access to Space (Córdoba). Since 2013, Dr. Gratton was in charge of CONAE´s Higher Education Unit and led the process of creation of new Master of Science Programs in partnership with several Argentine Universities and organizations from Government and industry. In 2016 he became the Director of Colomb Research Institute, Argentine Space Agency – San Martín National University. Dr. Gratton is a member of the editorial boards for NAVIGATION - Journal of the Institute of Navigation and IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems.

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