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A Next-Generation Flight Simulator Using Virtual Reality for Aircraft Design (Work in Progress)

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Flight and Control Simulators for Virtual Learning

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Dominic M. Halsmer P.E. Oral Roberts University

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Dr. Dominic M. Halsmer is a Professor of Engineering and former Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Oral Roberts University. He has been teaching science and engineering courses there for 28 years, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma. He received BS and MS Degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1985 and 1986, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA in 1992. He received an MA Degree in Biblical Literature from Oral Roberts University in 2013. His current research interests involve virtual reality flight simulation, the integration of faith and learning, contributions from the field of engineering to the current science/theology discussion, reverse engineering of complex natural systems, and the preparation of scientists and engineers for missions work within technical communities.

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Technology has been a very important influence in society since ancient times, but has recently been advancing more rapidly. With technology comes virtual reality which is on the rise in the undergraduate engineering realm. Because virtual reality is innovative and interactive, it has great potential for enhancing engineering education. A multidisciplinary team of five engineering students in the undergraduate program of XXX University is continuing the development of a fully functional flight simulator to assist in the design of original aircraft. Through faculty and staff guidance and a plethora of data from the previous team's endeavors, the project should be completed by April 2020. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop an innovative approach to deepen the understanding of aircraft design through the use of the flight simulator. With this technology, students can produce realistic motions of flight through virtual reality and six degrees of freedom of a Stewart platform with revolute joints. Since much of the SolidWorks modeling for the components has already been completed, fabrication with newer, more powerful motors and the incorporation of a neutral buoyancy system are the main focus of this year's project. The flight simulator provides a state-of-the-art learning tool for students. Linking the HTC vive virtual reality headset to the mechanical part of the system provides an exciting learning experience. For the end user, the simulation creates curiosity that increases the desire to learn more about the system. Bigger motors that have been installed on the Stewart platform provide a larger torque for a better experience and also help with carrying the weight of the user sitting in the flight simulator chair. Programs such as ANSYS to design and analyze the safety of the structure, MATLAB’s Simulink technology to simulate the dynamics of the system, and SolidWorks to model the components shows how different engineering skills and software are used in coordination to create a functioning system. This gives prospective college students a good perspective on what engineering entails. At the same time, aircraft design students can make use of the flight simulator to mimic projects they might encounter in their professional careers. Full-size industry flight simulators are very expensive to build and operate. Our smaller flight simulator is less expensive, giving more opportunity for virtual reality flight simulation. As part of a growing engineering department, XXX University offers an aircraft design class. Previously, students would design original aircraft on paper but would not get a chance to practically test their designs. The flight simulator will enable students to practically test their theoretical predictions and make necessary adjustments. It also cuts the time for simulation since the X-plane software does most of the mathematics. The advantage is that students can then make more than one model aircraft and analyze the differences and similarities to get a better idea of what factors are most important in aircraft design. Students can also experiment with random variables to see what effect they will have on the flight simulation. Those random tests will yield interesting results that can be used for classroom discussions. These discussions will be vital for increasing students’ newfound passions in the field of engineering.

Halsmer, D. M. (2020, June), A Next-Generation Flight Simulator Using Virtual Reality for Aircraft Design (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34027

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