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Hands-on Exposure to Unconventional Applications of Aerospace at the High School Level

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Hands-On Activities and Student Learning in Aerospace Engineering - I - Student Papers

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Hannah Stroud

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Hannah Stroud is a first year masters student at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include unconventional applications of aerospace technology with an emphasis on smart materials and structural optimization. She is co-advised by Dr. Kristi Shryock and Dr. Darren Hartl.

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Kristi J. Shryock Texas A&M University

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Dr. Kristi J. Shryock is the Frank and Jean Raymond Foundation Inc. Endowed Instructional Associate Professor and Associate Department Head in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. She also serves as Director of the Craig and Galen Brown Engineering Honors Program. 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 areas, such as mathematics and physics, evaluating engineering identity and its impact on retention, incorporating non-traditional teaching methods into the classroom, and engaging her students with interactive methods.

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Student Paper

Since 2012, Institution has placed a concentrated focus on outreach to high schools and sought to foster interest in aerospace engineering through Camp XXX, a summer camp for high school juniors and seniors. Camp XXX has prioritized effective communication of aerospace fundamentals through activity-based learning in a way that has been both captivating and instructive without being overwhelming to its audience. Students are separated into “tracks”, project groups led by field specialists, through which the students have been able to explore their personal interests within aerospace; additionally, more individual project guidance has been given in this format. To accommodate growth from previous years, a fourth track, helicopters, has been added to the pre-existing airplanes, rockets, and air ships. These tracks promote exploration of aerospace in a very traditional capacity—that is, the projects focus on projects typically associated with aerospace. For example, students in the airplane track build a glider attached to a pneumatic-powered rocket, which is constructed by students in the rocket track. Students in the air ships track design a control scheme for lighter than air swimmers, and students in the helicopters group design and manufacture boomerangs. A recent hypothesis from the authors states that a limited perception of aerospace engineering might negatively impact interest in the field. If students perceive aerospace as having more applications than traditional aerospace areas (planes, rockets, helicopters, satellites, airships), interest in aerospace engineering might increase. To test this hypothesis in a small-scale environment at an early education level, an activity related to a “non-traditional” aerospace region was introduced. In this group of students, interest in aerospace engineering was generally high; however, in a pre-activity evaluation, students tended to see aerospace as “limited” regardless of interest level. They also considered traditional aerospace applications, such as space exploration, to be more relevant to the field than less traditional applications, such as renewable energy or healthcare-related technology. To bridge that gap, students were given a prompt to design a capsule to protect a biomedical payload as it was airdropped over a deployment site, requiring them to consider the capsule’s structure and aerodynamics. The students were given a budget, a list of available materials, and a cost function to drive their design. In an initial design session, students were asked to form a preliminary design and place an order for materials necessary to build their designs while remaining within their budget. In a second design session, students were tasked with using the materials they ordered to build their designs. The students loaded their designs with a “syringe” payload (glowsticks) and tested them at a drop height of six stories. From this activity, students learned the importance of system-level evaluation and designing to requirements while applying their “aero intuition” to an unconventional aerospace problem. Feedback from students showed promise of changing the perception that careers for aerospace engineers are limited to traditional areas.

Stroud, H., & Shryock, K. J. (2019, June), Hands-on Exposure to Unconventional Applications of Aerospace at the High School Level Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32884

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