an initiative of


European Young Engineers strongly believes that engineers play an essential role in our society. Engineers make things happen and create technology and products that make our lives easier. Almost every aspect in our lives is somehow influenced by engineers. We believe, that engineers have lots of responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is, to inspire the next generation to follow this path by themselves, to nurture creative thinking and problem-solving. We are proud to be engineers and we believe there should be more engineers in Europe!
In the following videos young engineers out of our association explain their reasons why they became and engineer and what they love about it. The videos are recorded in the mother tongue of the engineers, so they can be understood by children, too. However, we added subtitles so you can understand what is important for young engineers.

Rhys Phillips (United Kingdom)

Varsha Nursee (Mauritius)

Vojtech Squerzi (Czech Republic)

Elisabeth Nilsson (Sweden)

Conni Fleischer (Germany)

Malcolm Zammit (Malta)

Interested in becoming part of the #WhyEngineering campaign yourself and to inspire kids to follow your path and to become an engineer? Reach out to us via office@eyengineers.eu!

Engineering Origami in Space Logistics – Foldable Solar Panels

September 13, 2018 by Paula Weidinger0

By Božo Cicvarić, mag. ing. traff. (EYE-HR)

Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E12uju1vgQ (YouTube printscreen)

“Space is one of the places in which origami plays a significant role. Certain items need to be small in order fit into rockets, and then, when they reach their destination in space, they need to be big. When you have those two needs, origami is the right solution for the transition between those two states.” – Robert J. Lang

Science of Origami

Most of us have more or less encountered origami when we were children. Origami is a craft of making a model by folding a paper – no cutting, no gluing.

Today, origami is more than just a crane and a childhood play. There are many types of origami that continually inspire engineers from all fields and professions: biologists, mathematicians, scientists, and – lately – astronauts.

Origami develops spatial intelligence in people and exercises problem-solving thinking. That is one of the reasons why engineers love origami.

1404-51 184.CR2
ME NASA Solar panel array. Shannon Zirbel, PhD Mechanical Engineering student.
April 18, 2014
Photography by Mark A. Philbrick
Copyright BYU Photo 2014
All Rights Reserved
photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322

Modern origami is an interesting folding technique and a result of 40 years of mathematical research. The interest for it is growing: engineers use it to solve certain problems and its concepts are increasingly integrated into modern technology. Models derived from origami revolutionise fields of robotics, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, architecture, etc.

What intrigues the most is that origami made its way from a distant past, being used for making gifts, all the way to our unexplored universe as a support in space logistics. Since all of the future space research missions depend on logistics, origami deserves its place in science.

Origami – Solution for Solar Array Packaging

Open Top Containers can be used to solve the “Cube Out” problem, but in space logistics it gets more complex / Source: shippingcontainersuk.com / Origami Flasher / Source: “Single Freedom” Lang, Spencer Magleby and Larry Howell

One of the major challenges of sending probes into space is the typical logistical question: How to transport as much cargo as possible with minimal energy used? One of the typical challenges in freight transport is the exceeding volume of cargo. How to transport things that are too big?

Supply chain managers have a professional name for problems of this nature. When the volume of transported items is exceptionally large, in comparison to its weight, and it exceeds its packaging limits, the problem is called “Cube Out”. In this case, the transport unit, e.g. a 20-foot container is capacitated by its volume before reaching its weight load limit. The problem of exceeding volumes can be solved with Open Top containers.

Packaging plays a key role in this case!

The contrary to the term “Cube Out” is “Weight Out”; the transported object has reached the weight load limits of the transport unit before reaching the volume load limit. This means that there is still a lot of space in the container, but it cannot be filled with more cargo, because the weight load limit is already reached.

When the problem is seen from the astronaut’s point of view, on an orbital or interplanetary level, it becomes much more complex. The challenge of sending solar arrays into space is the best example.

Origami solar array / Source: phys.org

Solar panels are used to collect solar energy for traveling rockets. Fully expanded, panels make an extremely large surface that is impossible to pack into a rocket and carry into space without special packaging techniques. How did engineers solve this problem? Origami folding technique!

In order to remember how certain origami models are made, origamists use diagrams and crease patterns. Diagrams are 2D instructions that show how to fold the paper to make certain origami models.

Ante Radonić, a renowned Croatian expert who has been the leader of the Planetarium of the Technical Museum “Nikola Tesla” in Zagreb for over 40 years. Photo: Božo Cicvarić

One of the innovating techniques that lead to the solution of packaging solar panels into rockets is Miura map – an origami model made by the Japanese astrophysicist Kory Miura. An opened Miura map looks like a chessboard of parallelograms.

What fascinates is that with a simple move, which is the diagonal translation of the ends across the Map, it evenly opens up in a stunning way.

Miura map unfolding / Source: www.origami-resource-center.com

Thus, it became a promising technique by which solar panels can be effectively compressed and loaded into rockets and solve thereby the “Cube Out” problem. With this kind of folding technique, solar panels could be well fit into the rockets. When the rocket launches and reaches its right coordinates at which the panels needs to be spread, the real origami begins.

The Miura folding technique was applied in 1995 in the solar array designed for the Japanese Space Flayer Unit.

Technical Origami at NASA

Other solutions similar to the Miura map also came to the stage, e.g. origami flashers. Mechanical engineering students at Brigham Young University (BYU) made interesting solutions for NASA as well. NASA uses many origami techniques in its labs. One of the best examples is SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellites, 20-foot rotating antennas used to collect global measurement data of the Earth’s soil moisture.

Developing Starshade concept at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory./ Source: Robert Salazar (www.salazarigami.com/starshade/)

Another great example is the Starshade concept, which was made to help satellites take pictures of planets orbiting stars far from the sun. NASA’s flower-shaped starshade is a panel that is able to position itself precisely between the telescope and the star that is being observed, and can block the starlight before it reaches the telescope’s mirrors. In order to transport it into space, the origami flasher technique is used.

Origami Starshade optical shield concept / Source: NASA

In Croatia, the Croatian Origami Society focuses on topics from all origami fields. The society promotes origami in science, art and education.

CROATIAN ORIGAMI SOCIETY Facebook page. / Source: Printscreen HOD Facebook page

I would like to thank the people who helped with their informations during the process of writing this article:

Ante Radonić, publicly known expert of astronautics in Croatia who worked over 40 years in the Technical museum „Nikola Tesla“ in Zagreb

Sanja Srbljinović Čuček, president of Croatian Origami Society 

Branimir Čuček, Mechanical Engineer

About the author

Božo Cicvarić, the author of this article.

Božo Cicvarić, mag.ing.traff. is Vice president of EYE Croatia. Alongside the president, Marin Dokoza, he helped in formatting EYE Croatia and of becoming and EYE member organisation in January 2018. He is from Zagreb, Croatia. In 2016 he earned his master’s degree in the field of Logistics at the Faculty of Traffic and Transport Sciences of the University of Zagreb. Currently, he is working in a Transport Planning company. Božo is passionate about new emerging technologies and the way they impact our daily lives – virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printers, you name it.  He hopes he can contribute to EYE by making engineering more attractive to young generations and by making engineers in Croatia and Europe share their experiences. Božo is also a member of Croatian Origami Society in Zagreb.

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