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An Experiment in Live Simulation-Based Learning in Aircraft Design and its Impact on Student Preparedness for Engineering Practice

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Aerospace Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.166.1 - 23.166.26

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Paper Authors


William Michael Butler Lockheed Martin

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Dr. Wm. Michael Butler is an aerospace industry design professional with 23 years of experience. He has earned a B.S. and a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. His engineering education research is focused on the use of design tools and live simulation in engineering design education as a means to better prepare students for industry. He is a senior member of AIAA and a member of ASEE. Dr. Butler is also a co-inventor on two patents relating to air vehicle design.

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An Experiment in Live Simulation-Based Learning in Aircraft Design and its Impact on Student Preparedness for Engineering PracticeIn the near future, engineering practice in America will be at a crossroads as a large portion ofthe engineering workforce, the baby boom generation, retires. Filling the void created as a resultof this exodus of talent and experience in a timely manner will be challenging. Coupled with thispending shortfall in talent and experience is a belief by some that the scientist engineer approachto training young engineers, developed in the early 20th century and followed by most Americanengineering programs today, does not fully meet the needs of the 21st century industrialenvironment. This creates a “gap” in engineering student preparation. Some in industry andacademia feel that this model of engineer preparation needs to change in order to better addresstoday’s industrial work world complexities. A new model for student preparation, centering onengineering design, called the Live Simulation Based Learning (LSBL) approach was developedbased upon the theories of situated learning, game-based learning, epistemic frames, andaccidental competencies. Quantitative and qualitative results of a study of the application ofLSBL in a two term capstone design class in aerospace engineering aircraft design are discussedwith emphasis on the impact of the approach on student’s design related professional andtechnical skills as measured by multiple survey applications and one-on-one interviews. Resultsindicate that the participants found the LSBL experience to be more engaging than the traditionallecture approach and did help students respond and begin to think more like aerospaceengineering practicing professionals. It is felt that such efforts begin to address the “gap”between academia and industry.

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