Asee peer logo

Experiential Learning In Aircraft Structures

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Innovations in the Aerospace Classroom

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.555.1 - 8.555.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Masoud Rais-Rohani

Download Paper |

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

Session 2602

Experiential Learning in Aircraft Structures

Masoud Rais-Rohani Mississippi State University


A design-build-test project is used as means of providing an academic-based, industry-focused experiential learning opportunity for students in a senior-level aircraft structures course taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University. Initiated as a paper design project in 1998, the project has rapidly evolved into a comprehensive learning experience with prototype development and testing as its two major elements. This paper presents the details of this experiential learning activity as well as a formative assessment of its effectiveness.

I. Introduction

Prior to the 1950's, it was common for engineering programs to offer in their curricula such courses as sheet-metal fabrication, casting, and machine shop. With the advent of computers and more emphasis on the theoretical side of engineering education, the courses on mechanical arts were gradually phased out with most of hands-on activities reduced and squeezed into the laboratory courses. This shift in engineering education is mostly responsible for many engineering graduates to have a very narrow understanding of the product development process through which a design concept is transformed into a physical product. Exceptions to this are primarily those students who have engaged in Co-op learning opportunities in industry.

There has been a renewed interest over the past decade and a half in bringing meaningful hands- on or active experiential learning opportunities to traditional lecture-based courses. Some of these efforts have focused on manufacturing1 and construction2 while others have focused on a broader design experience.3 The improvement in learning by engaging in hands-on activities has been well documented mainly as a result of the pioneering work by Kolb.4

As part of a broad undergraduate curriculum enhancement effort in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University, three freshman/sophomore introductory courses were developed and some of the existing junior and senior-level courses were modified to include meaningful experiential learning opportunities for the students. The senior-level ASE 4623 (Aircraft Structures III) is one such course that was modified as a result of this initiative.

The experiential learning activity in this course started initially as a simple column design project requiring students to bend a flat rectangular sheet of aluminum into a composite cross-sectional geometry that would enable the resulting column to carry as much axial compression as possible prior to failure. Although somewhat limited in scope, the column design-build-test project provided a great learning opportunity to the students who also tremendously enjoyed the hands- on activity.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Rais-Rohani, M. (2003, June), Experiential Learning In Aircraft Structures Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11542

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015