June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.298.1 - 22.298.14
Bringing Aerospace Applications into a Project-Based First-Year Engineering CourseFaculty members at a large public university have made significant strides in using project-basedlearning in a first-year engineering course to promote understanding of mathematics and scienceand the practice of engineering. Project specifications developed and utilized for the last sixyears ensure students use mathematics and science concepts in the engineering process of designand modeling to make performance predictions prior to the build and then use the build to verifyresults.Seeking to excite freshman students about aerospace applications in the first-year, facultymembers and graduate students in the Aerospace Engineering department at the Institutiondeveloped projects involving smart materials. While smart materials have been used in manyaerospace applications, their introduction into the curriculum is lagging behind. However, thereare many simple ideas that can be tested with even freshmen undergraduate students taking theirfirst engineering courses. Smart materials provide the opportunity for explaining very importantengineering principles, e.g., energy conversion, actuation, etc. By introducing projects usingsmart materials, students learn about their applications, their relationship to the aerospace field,and the potential for material science as a future research goal. Through the use of smartmaterials and standard Lego Mindstorm kits, the projects can be assembled easily withoutextensive fabrication expertise, thus highlighting the engineering design process. This paper willpresent specifications for two projects developed involving smart materials, provide details onthe implementation, and summarize results from the project.
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