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Promoting K-12 Aerospace Education via Wind Tunnels Developed through an International Capstone Design Partnership

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Christina L. Carmen University of Alabama - Huntsville

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Dr. Carmen obtained a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering degree as well as a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. While at Ga. Tech she worked with Dr. Warren Strahle, researching solid propellants. She obtained a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) with a focus upon turbulent combustion modeling. Dr. Carmen is the capstone design class coordinator in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) department at UAH. She primarily teaches MAE senior design classes with a focus upon product realization – a class she has taught since 2002.

Several of Dr. Carmen’s senior design teams have won national and international design competitions including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Safety Engineering and Risk Analysis Division safety competition, the International Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition, the American Astronautical Society/von Braun Symposium student poster competition, the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) Systems Engineering design competition and the NASA Great Moonbuggy Race. In 2012, the UAH Moonbuggy team won 1st place in the Moonbuggy race.

Dr. Carmen is the UAH ASME student chapter faculty advisor as well as a Director of the North Alabama ASME section. Dr. Carmen has served as a National Science Foundation scholarship panelist, Department of Defense SMART scholarship panelist and as a delegate to the ASME Leadership Training conference. In 2010 and 2013, Dr. Carmen was named the Outstanding Mechanical Engineer in North Alabama by ASME. In 2010 she was awarded a NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) faculty fellowship – one of 5 senior design class instructors selected from around the country to participate in the program. As a result of the fellowship, several UAH MAE senior design teams have been able to work with NASA engineers on projects that are relevant to NASA’s mission. In April 2011, Dr. Carmen was selected as a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award recipient.

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Ben Groenewald Cape Peninsula University of Technology

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Ben Groenewald is Head of the EECE Dept. at CPUT in South Africa. He holds a Master of Science in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Cape Town and is currently studying towards his PhD. He is a panel member of the organizing and editorial committee of the Domestic Use of Energy and the Industrial and Commercial Use of Energy conferences. He is a reviewer for both of these conferences. Mr. Groenewald was the CPUT capstone design class coordinator for many years. His main interest, apart from managing his department, is the promotion of STEM education in South Africa and developing sustainable off-grid electricity supply micro-grid models for rural towns in South Africa.

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Rhyme Kagiso Setshedi Cape Peninsula University of Technology

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Rhyme Setshedi is a physics Phd Candidate and a qualified educator/lecturer in the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (DEECE) at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town South Africa. He has over a decade of teaching experience at tertiary levels and a deep passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). His research interest includes small angle scattering (SAS) and the use of informarion technology systems (ITS) in physics and in education. In is on this bases that Rhyme has partnered with Mr Ben Groenewaald (Departmental Head- DEECE ) and Dr Christina Carmen (a capstone design class coordinator in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville(UAH)) on this ALLiance for International Excellence among the future Space workforce (ALLIES). Rhyme has been involved in this international STEM outreach programme for three years now, coordinating CPUT students’ involvement in the ALLICE STEM tool development with UAH students.

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Aysha Abrahams Cape Peninsula University of Technology

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Aysha Abrahams
Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. Obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Education (Honours) in 2002 and a Master’s Degree in Education (2006) from the University of Cape Town. Lectured at the University of Western Cape, University of Cape Town and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Currently lecturing Communication Skills and Industrial Projects in the Electrical Engineering Department, CPUT. Additional areas lectured: Research Methodology, Professional Practice, Literacy First Additional Language Methodology, Environmental Education, Philosophy of Care & Health Promotion, Life Orientation, Religion and HIV/Aids. Departmental duties include: Teaching & Learning representative and first year coordinator. Projects: HEAIDS, Service learning in Education and STEM. Awards received: UCT Student Conference award- 2002 and 2004. Publications: one journal article and a chapter in a book. Two articles pending acceptance from accredited journals. Completed and passed Doctoral thesis awaiting graduation.

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In many nations, programs to grow the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline are a priority due to the fact that advancements and innovations in STEM fields are indicative of a growing and progressive society. Within the United States (US), an aging National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Department of Defense (DoD) workforce, as well as the need to create a more diverse STEM workforce, are impetuses for accelerated efforts that focus upon STEM education and careers. Such efforts are also continuously gaining traction in South Africa; a nation dedicated to overcoming the negative education disparities that resulted from apartheid. As a result of the mutual interest in promoting STEM education and careers among Kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) students in the US and South Africa, an academic partnership was established between University A in City, State and University B in City, South Africa in 2012. The University A/University B partnership is referred to as the ALLiance for International Excellence among the future Space workforce (ALLIES). The primary goal of ALLIES is the design and development of STEM tools within engineering capstone design classes at University A and University B. Upon completion, the STEM tools are donated to various K-12 schools in the US and South Africa. The STEM tools adhere to stringent curriculum and product requirements-with safety as a top-level requirement. Another critical goal of ALLIES is the enablement of international design efforts that provide the engineering students opportunities to gain invaluable experience working with, and communicating with, an international partner. In order to specifically promote aerospace engineering, the ALLIES partnership has focused upon the design and development of wind tunnels that are donated to K-12 schools. The wind tunnels have proven to spark interest in aerospace related phenomena among the K-12 students. The most recent ALLIES effort focuses upon the design of a wind tunnel that can be fabricated using materials, parts, and components available in most regions of the world, such that disadvantaged schools can easily replicate a wind tunnel. The present paper will focus upon the wind tunnel design process and the educational impact upon the recipient K-12 students, as well as upon the engineering design students.

Carmen, C. L., & Groenewald, B., & Setshedi, R. K., & Abrahams, A. (2016, June), Promoting K-12 Aerospace Education via Wind Tunnels Developed through an International Capstone Design Partnership Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25996

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