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Integrating Veteran Experiences into Engineering Design: Veteran-led Student Development of High-power Rocket Competition Team

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Military and Veterans Division Technical Session 2: Veteran Identity & Inclusion

Tagged Division

Military and Veterans

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Paper Authors


Thomas L. Davis Kent State University

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Thomas Davis is a graduate student in the Master of Technology program at Kent State University. He holds a bachelors degree in aeronautical systems engineering technology from Kent State University. Prior to joining the Kent State student body, Mr. Davis held operator and technical service request specialist positions at Forest City Technologies, Inc. for a total of 16 years. He is currently a staff sergeant in the Ohio Army National Guard, where he has served as a helicopter maintainer for 15 years.

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D. Blake Stringer Kent State University Orcid 16x16

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BLAKE STRINGER, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of at Kent State University. He is the founding faculty member of the university's aerospace engineering program. Prior to joining the faculty at Kent State, Dr. Stringer served in the Army for 20 years as an army aviator, West Point faculty member, and research engineer. He holds a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering from the US Military Academy, a masters degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech, and a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia. Prior to his retirement, he led the Army Research Laboratory’s vehicle propulsion division, conducting basic and applied research of engine and drive system technologies. His research interests are varied and include unmanned aerial systems, the aerodynamics of vertical axis wind turbines, rotating mechanical components, rotordynamics, and engineering education pedagogy. As an aviator, he has been rated in both rotary and fixed-wing platforms. He also holds a FAA commercial airman’s certificate.

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Maureen Regan McFarland Kent State University

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MAUREEN McFARLAND is currently the Aeronautics Senior Program Director and an assistant professor at Kent State University. Prior to joining the faculty at Kent State, Dr. McFarland served in the Marine Corps as a navigator at which time she transitioned to the Marine Corps Reserve, retiring after 20 years of service. She holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the US Naval Academy, a master’s degree in business from Boston University, and a PhD in educational psychology at Kent State University. Her research interests include assessment, effective teaching practices using instructional technology, and engineering education pedagogy.

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In 2016, students at the authors’ institution were invited to participate in the Midwest High-Power Rocket Competition, an annual design competition hosted by the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium. Having little to no knowledge of high-power model rocketry, this group of students petitioned the college to sponsor a team. Upon receiving dean approval, the group of students needed to organize, delineate responsibilities, secure funding, design and build a rocket, perform flight tests, conduct outreach, establish safety protocols, document their work, travel and compete in the competition. Moreover, they needed to accomplish all this within six months and outside of the normal classroom environment.

The group consisted of students from a variety of majors to include aerospace engineering, aeronautical systems engineering technology, mechanical engineering technology, and flight technology. Among these were three active duty or national guard veterans.

Veteran attributes are already documented in the literature in terms of their potential within the engineering community. This paper describes the design competition and documents the actions of the team through the student design process. It then describes the veterans’ roles and integration in the project, specifically how their veteran experiences directly impacted the team’s success. Finally, it describes these veterans’ impact on model rocketry at the institution as a whole and their legacy in subsequent competition teams.

Davis, T. L., & Stringer, D. B., & McFarland, M. R. (2018, June), Integrating Veteran Experiences into Engineering Design: Veteran-led Student Development of High-power Rocket Competition Team Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30691

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