Design Acknowledgements


The overarching concept for the DDT design stems from the collective drop tower design and research experience of the DDT Board (Chen, Snyder, and Weislogel). That said, it is clear that the DDT draws significant inspiration from the 2.2s Drop Tower at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

The 2.2s NASA tower is certainly one of the most user friendly and productive facilities in the world and has conducted over 26,725 drops since its creation in the early 1960s. The NASA tower also served as an inspiration for the later approach of Snyder (cite) whose developments and innovations fed back design improvements to the NASA tower and others as well (i.e. cite Canada, Australia), including the DDT.


Detailed Design and Build

The DDT project was initiated to celebrate the lasting contributions of outgoing Dean, Robert Dryden, to the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University (Spring 2008). The resources for the work were made available in a nearly spontaneous chain of events by a number of MCECS Board members, Portland area industry leads, alumni, and friends of the university. The monies were matched by the state of Oregon. The drop tower was viewed as not just a means to conduct micro-gravity research, but more broadly to support under/graduate coursework and expand STEM-related outreach to our community.

The work was managed by Howard S. Wright Constructors and split into PSU and Contractor components. The PSU component included the design requirements, drag shield, deceleration system, experiment platform, release and recovery stage, and control. These tasks were taken on by individual graduate students and graduate and undergraduate student teams. The contractor components concerned the tower architecture, structure, materials selection, electrical, assembly, and management. The DDT differs from other university drop tower projects because of the significant influence of the professional team. A steady stream of ideas from these folks and the skills to complete them on time and within budget has made this a most enjoyable project.

Project Support

DDT Donors!

Structural Engineering
KPFF (Blake, Bassam)

Electrical Engineering
EC Co. (Hal, Jon)

Architectural Support
ZGF (Craig, John)

Construction Oversight
Howard S. Wright Constructors (John, Dave)

PSU Facilities
Francis, Linda

PSU Execs
Debbie, Jennifer

PSU Students
Donald and Jenna Bell,
capstone team (4),
DDT team (6)

DDT Board
Y. Chen (PSU),
T. Snyder (Xerox),
M. Weislogel (PSU)

Product Providers

DDT Structure:  Timblin
Magnets:  Velocity Magnetics
Drag Shield Latches: Hartwell
Falling Parts Fab.: BCC Steel
Foam: Barrier