June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.426.1 - 23.426.13
Development of Aerospace Engineering Focused Undergraduate Research at a Small University: Accomplishments and Lessons LearnedInvolving undergraduate students in mentored research projects can provide a valuable, highimpact educational experience while providing added benefits to faculty mentors, the institution,and the greater scientific and engineering community. This paper describes the evolution andsuccessful strategies implemented in the development of aerospace engineering focusedundergraduate research at a small undergraduate level university. Undergraduate research can bechallenging to implement in a small, teaching focused university with limited resources and nograduate school programs. Over a period of six years, the research program at this universityhas evolved from one with very little aerospace related undergraduate research activity to anactive and sustainable program where students can contribute to research efforts in areas ofcritical need within the Aerospace community.The research program has been built upon a model of undergraduate research established by theCouncil on Undergraduate Research (CUR) where research is broadly defined, faculty mentorsare actively involved, and there is an expectation that the research processes and results will bedisseminated through presentations and/or publications. An interdisciplinary, team approach hasbeen emphasized with most of the aerospace related projects involving teams of students fromboth the Mechanical and Electrical and Computer Engineering programs. Students canparticipate in research related activities during the summer through summer research fellowshipsas well as during the school year through senior design projects and independent research. Theprimary funding has come from NASA through the state’s Space Grant Consortium and NASAEPSCoR programs with some additional funding through the university’s academic researchprogram office. Technical areas of the projects have included Optical Navigation, Nanosatellites,Image Processing, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, and Inductively Coupled Plasma TorchFacility testing.Some of the measures of success that are reported in this paper include the number and diversityof students involved in aerospace related research activities, sustained funding received tosupport the research, collaboration with other universities and NASA centers, faculty mentorinvolvement, and the dissemination of research processes and results. One measure of successthat is particularly noteworthy is the large number of student presentations at a variety ofuniversity and state level venues as well as prestigious national conferences including ASMEInternational Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, AIAA Aerospace SciencesMeeting, and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. In addition to the successes,this paper addresses the challenges encountered and lessons learned during the process ofbuilding the research program.
Friend, R. D., & Beneat, J. N. (2013, June), Development of Aerospace Engineering-Focused Undergraduate Research at a Small University: Accomplishments and Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19440
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