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Innovative Aerospace Design Course At Mit

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.341.1 - 3.341.11

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Paper Authors

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Dava J. Newman

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Amir R. Amir

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

Session 3553

Innovative Aerospace Design Course at MIT

Dava J. Newman and Amir R. Amir Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I. Introduction

At MIT, Freshmen take courses from the Institute core requirement list and declare their majors at the end of their first year. They join a specific department in their sophomore year and typically begin to take major-specific courses at that time.

Some MIT Freshmen desire to start their aerospace education in the first year, therefore, we offer electives in the form of Freshmen Seminars [1] and Introduction to Aerospace and Design, which is the topic of this paper. Other students may be interested in aerospace engineering but are uncertain whether to select it as their field of study, while a third group of students desires some exposure to aerospace and design. The MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics first cre- ated the Freshman elective Introduction to Aerospace Engineering to assist students interested in majoring in the field. To make the course more exciting, the design and construction of a model blimp was integrated into the subject.

Over the past three years (1995–1998) several innovations have been introduced in the course and the name was changed in 1996 to Introduction to Aerospace and Design to reflect the real nature of the hands-on design element. The use of the World Wide Web (Web) was made an inte- gral part of the course. Utilizing the Web allows for more flexibility in teaching and learning than conventional approaches [2]. Interactive courseware has been developed for almost every level of engineering education. The most relevant materials are multi-media curricula developed to aug- ment hands-on design courses [3], [4].

Introduction to Aerospace and Design combines the new opportunity to interactively present and disseminate curricula over the World Wide Web with a hands-on, lighter-than-air vehicle design project to motivate and teach students about engineering. The Lectures encompass tradi- tional classroom presentations as well as Web-based curricula. The majority of the 90-minute lec- tures are presented in a classroom using either the blackboard or viewgraphs to convey fundamental information on aeronautics, astronautics, and design. Approximately 15% of the lec- tures are given in an electronic classroom when computer interaction is desired. Interaction among the students is encouraged and an electronic discussion forum was set up, where students share their ideas, questions and answers about lecture material, homework, or the design project.

Newman, D. J., & Amir, A. R. (1998, June), Innovative Aerospace Design Course At Mit Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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