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Enhancing Systems Engineering Content in Aerospace Courses: Capstone Design and Senior Technical Electives

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.666.1 - 26.666.12



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Paper Authors


John Valasek Texas A&M University

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John Valasek is Director, Center for Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Systems (CANVASS), Director, Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, and member of the Honors Faculty at Texas A&M University. He teaches courses in Aircraft Design, Atmospheric Flight Mechanics, Modern Control of Aerospace Systems, Vehicle Management Systems, and Cockpit Systems & Displays. John created the senior/graduate level course AERO 445 Vehicle Management Systems, which was the first regularly offered course on this topic in a U.S. aerospace engineering department.

John earned the B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1986 and the M.S. degree with honors and the Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas, in 1990 and 1995 respectively.

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Kristi J. Shryock Texas A&M University

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Dr. Kristi J. Shryock is an Instructional Associate Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Senior Director of Retention in the Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. She received her BS, MS, and PhD from the College of Engineering at Texas A&M. Kristi works to improve the undergraduate engineering experience through evaluating preparation in mathematics and physics, incorporating non-traditional teaching methods into the classroom, and engaging her students with interactive methods.

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Enhancing Systems Engineering Content in Aerospace Courses: Capstone Design and Senior Technical ElectivesSystems Engineering (SE) has long been a staple in the aerospace engineering industry, but it hasbeen slow to gain traction in academia. This is due to both the challenge of incorporating SEcontent in the traditional framework of engineering curricula and the lack of experience with SEby academic practitioners. This paper presents the results of a 17 month project between twolarge public institutions to investigate and incorporate educational tools and practical experiencesin the teaching of SE into existing design courses, to be later transitioned into a broad range ofcourses within the curriculum. The main objective of the project introduced students to thepractical applications of the fundamentals of SE without displacing other course content. Thetarget courses at Institution A included three senior-level courses, of which two were capstonedesign courses and one a design elective. For the capstone design courses, this content wasadded primarily to the early part of the semester and consisted of identifying a customer need,conducting a requirements definition study, developing a Concept of Operations, andsubsequently translating it into a Request for Proposal. For the design elective, this projectenhanced prior SE content in the course but then integrated the course into the collectiveinstruction within the broad Systems Engineering Design Initiative effort at the institution.The paper will present the modifications to course content, pedagogy used in the project, resultsfrom assessment of the project, lessons learned by the instructors, and comments from bothstudents in the course and industry advisory board members who reviewed the coursedeliverables. In summary, project outcomes were achieved, and the students felt theirexperiences were particularly rewarding. Students enjoyed teaming on a project involvinganother university, and the advisory board members remarked on the valuable real-worldexperience students received through the project. This approach to incorporating SE contentwithin current courses with minimal disruption to other content should be applicable to mostengineering programs. 1

Valasek, J., & Shryock, K. J. (2015, June), Enhancing Systems Engineering Content in Aerospace Courses: Capstone Design and Senior Technical Electives Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24004

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