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Evaluation Of A Student Team Project In An Introduction To Software Engineering Course For Aerospace Engineers

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Aerospace Technical Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.535.1 - 15.535.16



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Paper Authors


Mary Lynn Brannon Pennsylvania State University

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Mary Lynn Brannon, Instructional Support Specialist at the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at the Pennsylvania State University, has a Master of Arts Degree in Education and Human Development specializing in Educational Technology Leadership. Her work focuses on projects that measure and assess student perceptions of learning related to their experiences with engineering course innovations. She is a faculty development consultant with previous experience in instructional design, and instructor of the Graduate Assistant Seminar for Engineering Teaching Assistants.

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Oranuj Janrathitikarn Pennnsylvania State University

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Oranuj Janrathitikarn is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering,
the Pennsylvania State University. She has a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical
Engineering from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, and a Master of Science in
Aerospace Engineering from Penn State. Her master’s thesis focused on the implementation
of the Soar architecture on the six-legged robot. Her research interests are intelligent systems,
cognitive architecture, unmanned ground vehicles, robotics, and software engineering

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Lyle Long Pennsylvania State University

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

Evaluation of a Team Project in an Introduction to Software Engineering Course for Aerospace Engineers


Software engineering plays an important role in many industries, especially aerospace where the aircraft, spacecraft, and ground systems are often very large and complex, and safety and/or the mission require very safe software. In order to prepare aerospace engineering students to be more competitive in the aerospace workforce, Introduction to Software Engineering was developed at a the Pennsylvania State University in 2007. This senior-level course was designed to present software engineering concepts to aerospace students who have some background in computer programming, but no prior knowledge in software engineering. Students majoring in aerospace can select the software engineering course or an electrical engineering course as a requirement for the aerospace major in the eighth semester. In addition students can also take the course as an aerospace engineering elective or to fulfill requirements for minors in computational science or information science and technology. During the first two years, the course provided the materials based solely on lectures and talks from guest speakers. To provide a more real-world experience to students, a student team project was added to the course in the spring semester 2009, where they had to use the software engineering concepts. The pedagogical approach was to incorporate peer learning through teamwork that would involve the students in a problem-based learning experience.

The team project was designed with three objectives: to provide hands-on experience in software engineering through the development of a relatively small software system, to simulate the real working environment in a large company by having the students in the class work together as a team, and to emphasize the communication and collaboration skills among small groups in the software development model which are crucial skills in developing large and complex software systems.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the student team project including a discussion of how it improved the learning experiences of students and to share assessment data of student perceptions of working on a team. Preliminary findings indicate that participation in the team project increased the students’ awareness of the importance of software engineering in the Aerospace industry. Individuals who are involved in the design and development of real world projects in software engineering courses and pedagogy may be interested in this paper.


The need for software engineering education is important to the economy. The number of software disasters is growing1. Millions of dollars are spent on software disasters each year and this will grow as software systems become more complex. The Aerospace Department at the Pennsylvania State University recognized the importance of enhancing the curriculum to support the needs of current aerospace systems. Recruiters tell us that their companies are interested in hiring aerospace graduates that have studied software engineering or systems engineering1. A new course in software engineering was developed and first offered in Spring 2007 at the

Brannon, M. L., & Janrathitikarn, O., & Long, L. (2010, June), Evaluation Of A Student Team Project In An Introduction To Software Engineering Course For Aerospace Engineers Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16200

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