Member-Only Tours

Behind-the-Scenes Technical Tours for Members Only

All tours are scheduled on Fridays
1:45 – 2:00 p.m. – Arrival and Check-in
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Tour

T.B. Simon Power Plant at Michigan State University

Friday, April 20, 2018

Plant guides will take attendees on a walking tour of the plant that features high pressure boilers, steam turbine generators, and auxiliary equipment.

The T.B. Simon Power Plant is a co-generation plant that provides steam, heat and electricity for the university. Also known as “combined heat and power,” the plant utilizes steam to generate electricity. Boilers create steam that passes through a turbine generator. The electricity and the steam are then distributed across campus. The steam is mainly used to heat and cool buildings. An easy way to think of the process is with the analogy of a tea kettle.

There are five boilers inside the power plant and two steam lines serving campus. The two steam lines ensure that, in case one line needs to be serviced, the campus will never be without heat.

Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory (PEPL) at University of Michigan

Friday, June 15, 2018


Founded in 1992, the Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory is now one of the world’s leading electric propulsion research centers. The centerpiece of the laboratory is the Large Vacuum Test Facility (LVTF). Attendees will experience the following:

  • The largest Hall effect thruster in the world (the X-3) which has been operated at 100 kW.  This system is a precursor unit for cargo and crewed missions to Mars.
  • The most sophisticated research Hall effect thruster in the world (the H9), a 9-kW Hall effect thruster with extensibility to NASA’s thrusters.
  • A tour of the Large Vacuum Test Facility, the largest academic vacuum test facility in the world, featuring 19 cryopumps and 4 roughing pump.
  • Overview and tour of PEPL’s five smaller test facilities employed for fundamental plasma research and the investigation of micropropulsion concepts for cubesats/smallsats.
  • A walk through PEPL’s clean room showcasing the 25 year history of thruster development facilitated by the University of Michigan.

Attendees must be U.S. citizens to participate in the tour.