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Aerospace Engineering Initiative at the University of Maine

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Aerospace Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Masoud Rais-Rohani P.E. University of Maine

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Masoud Rais-Rohani is Richard C. Hill Professor and Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine. He earned his Ph.D. degree in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech in 1991. His academic experience includes a long tenure in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of design optimization, aerospace structures, structural mechanics, and composites. He has made extensive use of experiential learning and computer applications in his courses, including the development of two websites, one devoted to analysis of aircraft structures and the other to statics. He has also led or contributed to the development or redesign of several courses in aerospace and mechanical engineering.

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David S. Rubenstein University of Maine

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David Rubenstein has twenty-five years of industrial and research experience in aerospace guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) system design and modeling and simulation development. He has worked for a variety of major aerospace contractors including Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin), Raytheon Space andMissile Systems Design Laboratory and Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Rubenstein received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and the M.S. and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in the area of spacecraft dynamics and control. His areas of expertise include math models for simulation, parameter estimation and system identification, GN&C system design and analysis, estimation, sensor fusion and Kalman filtering algorithms as well as numerical optimization techniques. While in industry, Dr. Rubenstein provided algorithms for a wide variety of systems including satellites, unmanned rotary and fixed-wing aerial (UAV) and underwater (UUV) vehicles, guided parachutes and parafoils, missiles, projectiles, and even a flying saucer as well as an unmanned reusable launch vehicle. Since founding Maine Aerospace Consulting in 2003, Dr. Rubenstein has worked on GN&C of a small autonomous helicopter, optimization of missile loiter patterns, Kalman estimators for parachute deployment and to integrate eLORAN range with GPS measurements. Currently, Dr. Rubenstein is designing sensor fusion algorithms for a medical devices application to support surgical VR training, and is also working on GN&C for an autonomous vehicle capable of personnel and cargo transfers to low-Earth orbit. In 2009, Dr. Rubenstein became Adjunct/Research Faculty of Aerospace Engineering within the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine. In this capacity, he has developed an Aerospace Engineering Concentration at the University through the creation and teaching of four aerospace courses.

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Wilhelm A. Friess University of Maine

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Dr. Friess holds a Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering and a B.Sc. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1997), and currently is Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering with the University of Maine and Director of the Brunswick Engineering Program. Previously he has spent 5 years in Dubai as inaugural faculty of RIT Dubai and Dubai Aerospace Enterprise University. Dr. Friess’ industrial and academic career spans a variety of consulting and entrepreneurial activities in Europe, Asia and Africa. Dr. Friess’ research background includes fluid mechanics, composite materials, performance optimization, and global engineering education. Current research interests focus on engineering education, in particular curriculum integration and innovative pedagogical methods.

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This work-in-progress paper describes the aerospace engineering initiative in the department of mechanical engineering (ME) at the University of X. The initiative began in 2009 by hiring an adjunct faculty with extensive experience and expertise in aerospace engineering, and it focused on establishing an Aerospace Engineering Concentration at the undergraduate level and an Aerospace Engineering Certificate at the graduate level. Two full-time faculty members with expertise in aerospace engineering were hired in 2013 and 2017 to help grow and expand the initiative.

Four new courses were developed, two at the senior level: (1) Aeronautics, (2) Astronautics, and two at the graduate level: (3) Flight Dynamics and Control of Aircraft, and (4) Spacecraft Orbit and Attitude Dynamics and Control. All four courses have been taught via distance technology with all the tests taken and proctored on campus. To complete the Concentration, an undergraduate ME student is required to complete both (1) and (2) along with either (3) or (4). To earn a certificate, a graduate student must complete all four courses. Since its inception, the total enrollment in the four courses has reached approximately 280 students, with seven completing the concentration and two earning the graduate certificate in aerospace engineering.

The senior-level capstone course sequence was expanded to allow and promote aerospace engineering related projects. In 2015, a closed circuit subsonic wind tunnel with a 75 cm x 75 cm test section and a top speed of approximately 130 km/h (80 mph) was designed and constructed as a capstone project. The tunnel is equipped with a hot wire anemometer and pitot-static probes. An LDV system is currently being updated for non-intrusive velocity measurements. Since its completion, the tunnel has been used successfully for offshore energy research, with planned projects in hybrid lift airships, energy efficiency, and the expansion of the instrumentation with a force-balance sting. A new senior-level course in fixed-wing aircraft design was developed in 2016 with another in aircraft structures currently under development. Other aerospace related courses include computational fluid dynamics and advanced fluid mechanics, both offered at the graduate level.

A student chapter of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) was established in 2016, which has sparked interest in students forming teams to design, build, and fly their own remote-control aircraft in preparation for entering the annual AIAA sponsored design-build-fly (DBF) competitions. To date, four teams have completed the DBF projects, and currently two teams are developing entries for the upcoming DBF competition.

Aerospace related research includes investigations involving fluid-structure-acoustic interactions associated with flapping wings for bio-inspired micro air vehicle applications as well as lighter-than-air unmanned aerial vehicles for long-endurance, low-altitude remote sensing.

To further grow the initiative, we are developing a plan to establish multiple concentrations or specializations, including aerospace engineering, for the students pursuing a master of science degree in mechanical engineering at the University of X.

Highlights of the aerospace engineering courses and projects will be included in the final manuscript along with feedback from the students who have pursued the concentration or the certificate program.

Rais-Rohani, M., & Rubenstein, D. S., & Friess, W. A. (2018, June), Aerospace Engineering Initiative at the University of Maine Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29761

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