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A Modular Approach In The Development Of Curricula For Aerospace Schools Provides Flexibility And Uniformity

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Aerospace Workspace: Current and Future 1

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.64.1 - 14.64.9



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Paper Authors

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John Anderson Oregon Institute of Technology

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Sergey Dubikovsky Purdue University

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Ronald Way El Camino College

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Bradley Harriger Purdue University

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Buford Pringle Butler Community College

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Scott Schaffer Purdue University

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Modular Approach in Development of Curriculum for Aerospace Schools Provides Flexibility and Uniformity Abstract

The aerospace industry is going through a period of radical change. As products become increasingly complex, engineering technicians must be more specialized, obtaining skills that, until recently, were used only by “pure” engineers. At the same time, the demand for skilled maintenance personnel is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for aerospace engineering and operations technicians will increase ten percent between 2006 and 2016, compared with a 7 percent overall employment growth in the need for engineering technicians. Furthermore, notwithstanding today’s more sophisticated technology, employers are looking for a well-prepared workforce that requires little or no on-site training. Another problem in the aerospace industry is an aging workforce (average age mid 40s or older) that will begin retiring in large numbers in the near future. This reality creates an urgent need for new approaches in two-year aerospace programs. El Camino College, Butler Community College, Oregon Institute of Technology and Purdue University are all developing new model curricula for technicians and engineers in the aerospace industry. These curricula will cover the gamut of the needs for manufacturing technologists in the aerospace industry and will also provide a common fluency in aerospace manufacturing procedures, processes, and terminology. One proposed modular approach allows an instructor to select needed section(s) for any course from available national “pool” of information, with each module including PowerPoint data, Instructor notes, and a student study guide. This approach will make developing new courses or re- designing existing courses easier and more uniform throughout aerospace schools. It is clear that a tradeoff exits: too much modularization suggests lack of cohesion; the reverse suggests lack of flexibility. The modules’ development is still in the formative stages with a focus on validating them within a variety of academic contexts. The next phase of activity may involve movement toward certification which would require more curricular cohesion and moving beyond pre-post criterion-referenced testing to standardized tests.


This work is being funded by a National Science Foundation grant entitled “Advanced Aerospace Manufacturing Education Project” (NSF Award #0603221).The aerospace manufacturing industry is undergoing radical change .These changes are being driven by an aging workforce (average age mid 40s or older) that will begin retiring in large numbers in the near future and by pressure from its customers to dramatically increase productivity in an increasingly complex product. It is projected that by 2009, 27 percent of the US aerospace workforce will be at retirement age1. The manufacturing team, including production support, that assembles aerospace products, includes mechanics, technicians, production managers, and manufacturing engineers. Training and education should be consistent to establish fluency in advanced manufacturing technologies. The primary source of training and education is the community college system.

Anderson, J., & Dubikovsky, S., & Way, R., & Harriger, B., & Pringle, B., & Schaffer, S. (2009, June), A Modular Approach In The Development Of Curricula For Aerospace Schools Provides Flexibility And Uniformity Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4891

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