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Applying Active Learning to an Introductory Aeronautics Class

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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 1

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Paper Authors


Kenneth W. Van Treuren Baylor University

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Ken Van Treuren is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering at Baylor University. He received his B. S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado and his M. S. in Engineering from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. After serving as USAF pilot in KC-135 and KC-10 aircraft, he completed his DPhil in Engineering Sciences at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom and returned to the USAF Academy to teach heat transfer and propulsion systems. At Baylor University, he teaches courses in laboratory techniques, fluid mechanics, energy systems, and propulsion systems, as well as freshman engineering. Research interests include renewable energy to include small wind turbine aerodynamics and experimental convective heat transfer as applied to HVAC and gas turbine systems.

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Applying Active Learning to an Introductory Aeronautics Class An elective, Introduction to Aeronautics, has been a traditional lecture course at XXXX teaching aeronautics from a design perspective. This semester active learning was introduced to make the course more interactive and hold students accountable for learning the material. Students formed teams of four and each team was designated a “company.” The task was to design a low cost, lightweight utility fighter which served as the basis around which to learn aeronautics. Companies picked a name, developed a logo, and wrote a mission statement. Competition was encouraged and the companies were tasked to eventually design the lowest cost, lightweight utility fighter aircraft.

Active learning modules involved the use of Quick Think and Jigsaw techniques. The Quick – Think on the first days of the class stimulated student interest in the design of an aircraft by asking them a series of questions such as “What is aircraft design?” The Jigsaw technique used “experts” from each team that, meeting together as an expert team, went into depth on a topical area. The experts, in turn, then returned to their teams and taught the team their topic. Two Jigsaws were completed. The first Jigsaw focused on four technology areas. The second Jigsaw was organized around performance topics. Expert teams developed point papers used to inform their teams on each of these subjects. Team members depended on each other for the necessary information.

An assessment of the course was accomplished by the students. They commented on three parts of the course: general questions about the course, the first two introductory lessons, and the Jigsaws. Students enjoyed the introduction to the aeronautics course using the team concept and broad questions. The Jigsaw exercises had mixed reviews but overall the students enjoyed the course and learned about aircraft and how they operated. In conclusion, the active learning modules were effective in teaching aircraft design and challenged the students to take responsibility for their education in the course.

Van Treuren, K. W. (2018, June), Applying Active Learning to an Introductory Aeronautics Class Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29812

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