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Innovative Instruction for Undergraduate Aircraft Dynamics and Control

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Aerospace Teaching and Learning II

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.881.1 - 22.881.16



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Paper Authors


Praveen Shankar Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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Praveen Shankar is a lecturer of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy at Arizona State University. He obtained his M.S. (2004) and Ph.D. (2007) degrees in Aerospace Engineering from The Ohio State University. He has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Bangalore University, India (1999). His research interests are in control theory with application to intelligent/adaptive flight control and innovation in educational methods for undergraduate aerospace education.

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Jenefer Husman Arizona State University

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Jenefer Husman received a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1998. She served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama from 1998 to 2002, when she moved to Arizona State University. In 2008 she was promoted by ASU to Associate Professor. Dr. Husman has been a guest editor of Educational Psychology Review, has served on editorial board for top educational research journals, and currently sits on the editorial board of Learning and Instruction. In 2006 she was awarded the U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER grant award and received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She has conducted and advised on educational research projects and grants in both the public and private sectors, and served as an external reviewer for doctoral dissertations outside the U.S. She publishes regularly in peer-reviewed journals and books, and has held both elected and appointed offices in the American Psychological Association (APA) and the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction. Dr. Husman was a founding member and first President of the Southwest Consortium for Innovative Psychology in Education. She currently serves as the elected Co-Coordinator of the Motivation Special Interest Group of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction.

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Valana L. Wells Arizona State University

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Dr. Wells is Program Chair for Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Arizona State University. She teaches the first course in aerodynamics, as well as undergraduate and graduate courses in aircraft design, aircraft flight mechanics, numerical methods, acoustics and rotary-wing aerodynamics. In addition to engineering curriculum innovation and reform, her interests include rotorcraft noise suppression, rotorcraft aerodynamics, and high-speed rotorcraft design.

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Wen-Ting Chung Arizona State University

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Wen-Ting is a doctoral Student in Educational Psychology at Arizona State University. Her research interests include teacher motivation in educational reform and students' motivation and learning.

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Innovative Instruction for Undergraduate Aircraft Dynamics and ControlIntroductionPrior studies have shown that the conventional teaching methods in university engineeringcourses undermine students’ motivation to persist in pursuing an engineering career [1-3]. Thisstudy, supported by NASA’s E.2 Innovation in Aeronautics Instruction conducted at a largesouthwestern university, addresses the development of an innovative approach to teachingfundamental concepts in Aircraft Dynamics and Control (ADC) to promote student motivation.A pilot study conducted in the same university identified that students reported significantlylower self-efficacy and perceived instrumentality in junior-level courses ([4]). The proposedapproach utilizes modern simulation technologies to teach fundamental concepts in ADC. Thepaper will describe the software development process, the instructional development process,and the instructional tool which has been developed, integrating the CAD package, DATCOMand the flight simulator. The paper will also describe the effect of the changes in instruction onstudents’ learning and motivation.Brief DescriptionThe topics in ADC consist of aircraft static stability, trim, dynamic modes, response to controlinputs and simple aircraft closed‐loop controllers. From the instructor’s experiences, thechallenges faced by students in appreciating the course is the inability to visualize complicated,multi‐modal aircraft motions and connect the material learned in ADC to content from otherAerodynamics courses. To overcome this challenge, a curriculum that utilizes the USAFDATCOM [5] and commercially available flight simulators in combination with Matlab wasdeveloped to enhance the student’s learning experience.The most significant challenge in this project was the full inclusion of the simulation software inall educational activities to emphasize the importance of visualization of multi-modal aircraftmotions for understanding principals discussed in ADC. In the paper we will describe in detailthe assignment development process and provide examples of the types of assignments whichfully integrated the simulator meaningfully into the ADC curriculum. One example we willprovide: Students were asked to input a particular initial condition into the software that excitedone of the dynamic modes of the aircraft motion. Students recorded their observations from theflight simulator and concluded that the mode that was excited was the Dutch-roll mode. Then,with the mathematical model of the aircraft, the students performed eigenvector analysis toverify that it was initial conditions that resulted in the Dutch-roll mode excitation.To evaluate the success of the innovative design students’ perceptions of the course and theirmotivational beliefs were examined in two semesters, the first semester when the instructortaught using traditional methods (n=40) and during the second semester, in which the sameinstructor taught using the innovative design (n=18). The surveys used in this evaluation werewell-established scales that have generated valid and reliable responses from students [6].ConclusionCompared with students in traditional instruction students in the innovative course reportedstatistically significantly higher confidence in their ability to learn course materials, engagedmore in active learning strategies, and performed better on an identical final exam. Continuedresearch is being conducted to evaluate the most successful assignments.References[1] Guzdial, M., Ludovice, P., Realff, M., Morley, T., Carroll, K., et al., "The challenge ofcollaborative learning in engineering and math", presented at Frontiers in Education Conference,2001. 31st Annual, NY, 2001.[2] Kalonji, G., "Capturing the imagination: High-priority reforms for engineering education." inEducating the engineer of 2020: Adapting engineering education to the new century.Washington,DC: National Academics Press, 2005, pp. 146-450.[3] Seymour, E. and Hewitt, M. N., Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave theSciences. Westview Press, 1997.[4] Husman, J & Chung, W-.T. Unpublished Data, 2010[5] Hoak, D. E., et al., "The USAF Stability and Control DATCOM," Air Force WrightAeronautical Laboratories, TR-83-3048, Oct. 1960 (Revised 1978).[6] Husman, J., Lynch, C., Hilpert, J., and Duggan, M. A., "Validating measures of future timeperspective for engineering students: Steps toward improving engineering education", presentedat American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, HI,2007.

Shankar, P., & Husman, J., & Wells, V. L., & Chung, W. (2011, June), Innovative Instruction for Undergraduate Aircraft Dynamics and Control Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18178

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