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Aerospace Engineering is Still Cool: Active Learning, Effective Teaching Techniques

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Aerospace Technical Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.139.1 - 25.139.14

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Paper Authors


Adeel Khalid Southern Polytechnic State University

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Adeel Khalid, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Systems Engineering Program, Division of Engineering, Q-349, Southern Polytechnic State University, 1100 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta, GA 30060; Office: 678-915-7241; Fax: 678-915-5527; Web:;

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Aerospace Engineering is still cool - Active Learning, Effective Teaching TechniquesAbstractThe focus of this research is to identify a few key students centered active learning techniquesthat are applicable in core aerospace engineering classes. Aerospace engineering, althoughattracts some of the brightest minds, is still a demanding and hard discipline to study. Most of thestudents who enter the discipline do it because they are interested and get fascinated by flyingobjects. Yet, at some of the major universities across the country, the dropout rate in theundergraduate aerospace engineering classes is higher than other disciplines. Besides thediscipline being hard to understand and study, another reason that high dropout rate can beattributed to is the lack of student centered active learning techniques used in the aerospaceengineering classes. In this paper, the author investigates some of the techniques andmethodologies used in other engineering and especially non-engineering disciplines that can beborrowed and applied to aerospace engineering. There have been numerous efforts [1] in variousdisciplines where college and university professors have been challenged to develop instructionalmethods that transform students from passive listeners to active learners. In the author’sexperience, introducing such techniques in a highly conceptual and mathematically intensiveaerospace class is ‘easier said than done.’Active learning is in short, anything that students do in a classroom other than merely passivelylistening to an instructor’s lecture. This includes everything from listening practices which helpthe students to absorb what they hear, to short writing exercises in which students react to lecturematerial, to complex group exercises in which students apply course material to ‘real life’situations and / or to new problems [2]. Some of the active learning techniques explored in thisresearch include brainstorming, think-pair-share, thumbs up / thumbs down response tostatement, pause procedure, group discussions, guided lectures, students work a problem thenevaluate each other’s work, responsive lectures, use of props, muddiest point, puzzles /paradoxes, discussions, work on the blackboard, games etc.In this paper, the low and high risk active learning strategies, specific to aerospace engineeringclasses are explored. The importance of active learning is emphasized. Some of the obstacles andbarriers that prevent faculty from using active learning strategies are discovered and theirremedies are explored.References: 1. Bonwell, C. Charles, ‘Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom,’ Active learning workshops, Last visited, 10/4/11 2. Paulson, R. Donald, Faust, L. Jennifer, ‘Active learning for college classroom,’, Last updated 12/3/10

Khalid, A. (2012, June), Aerospace Engineering is Still Cool: Active Learning, Effective Teaching Techniques Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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