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Assessing Student Outcomes Of Nasa Research Into Undergraduate Engineering Education

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Best Practices and Structuring for Aerospace Curricula

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Page Count


Page Numbers

11.241.1 - 11.241.22



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Paper Authors

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Ismail Orabi University of New Haven


Corinne Lenk Smith College

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Corinne Lenk graduated from Smith College in May 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in the Engineering Sciences. While at Smith, she participated in NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program twice. During her junior year, she was a member of the second Smith team to participate in the program. In her senior year, she served as team leader and worked with Professor Ismail Orabi to create a special studies course for Smith students involved in the NASA program. She currently works in aerodynamics for Ford Motor Company's Product Development Vehicle Engineering department.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assessing Student Outcomes Of NASA Research into Undergraduate Engineering Education


This paper presents an assessment of students’ outcomes in a course centered around NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program (RGSFOP) at Smith College. This study has three goals: to assess whether or not the course objectives have been achieved, to determine if students have increased their skills in the aforementioned areas, and to measure student’s perceptions about their skills in several areas such as problem solving, computer usage, design process, teamwork, and communication.

This course was conducted in the Spring 2005 Semester. The RGSFOP is an undergraduate program sponsored by NASA that requires participants to propose, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity experiment of their choice over the course of a school year. For the 2004-2005 school year, two teams of six students each from Smith College participated in this program. The assessment tools for this course included course profiles, oral presentations, written reports, peer-evaluations and student surveys. The students were required to assess the presentations and papers of their peers. Their assessments were guided by the instructor’s grading rubrics.

Three surveys were conducted during the semester, one at the beginning, one at the middle, and one at the end of the semester. The first survey was designed to measure student perceptions about themselves and their skills in several areas such as mathematics, computer usage, teamwork, and communication. The second survey was intended to provide an additional channel of communication between students and faculty at a point in the semester when it was still possible to implement changes suggested by the survey results. The third survey was designed to assess whether or not the course objectives had been achieved and to determine if students had increased their skills in the aforementioned areas. Results of these three surveys have been compiled and are presented in this paper. For the purposes of this paper, we have focused our efforts on student learning outcomes from the questionnaire.

The results show that the course has provided students an opportunity to be a part of a practical engineering project that involves the entire engineering design process, from recognizing a need, to designing a test apparatus, to communicating experimental results to the community.


The Picker Engineering Program at Smith College brings real-world projects into the classroom, adding excitement and relevance to the students’ experience of learning engineering fundamentals. Smith College is a private, non-denominational liberal arts college. The college was established in 1871. Smith College is the first and only women's college in the U.S. to grant a degree in engineering. The Picker Engineering Program offers a single Bachelor of Science in

Orabi, I., & Lenk, C. (2006, June), Assessing Student Outcomes Of Nasa Research Into Undergraduate Engineering Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--801

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