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Report on the Learning Experiences of Undergraduate Students in a Novel Aerospace Engineering Course Integrating Teaching and Research

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Aerospace Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1038.1 - 23.1038.14



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Paper Authors


Dennis K. McLaughlin Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. McLaughlin has been a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University since 1986. From 1986 to 2004 he served as head of the department. He received his graduate degrees including the Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the B.S. degree from the University of Manitoba in Canada. Following his studies at MIT, he was a professor at Oklahoma State University for eleven years and he spent five years as Group Manager at Dynamics Technology Inc., in Torrance, Calif. He teaches and conducts research in the general areas of experimental aerodynamics and aeroacoustics focusing on measurements that connect flow instabilities and turbulence to the radiated noise. High-speed jet noise experiments in the high subsonic and supersonic flow regimes have provided major databases for the validation of developing jet noise simulation codes. With student advisees he has pioneered the use of unheated helium-air gas mixtures to simulate hot supersonic jets for aeroacoustic experiments. The experiments have helped develop scaling methodologies for prediction of the aeroacoustic properties measured in larger government and industry facilities. More recent contributions have been pursuing a noise reduction method for which a patent application has been filed as a co-inventor. He has widely published the results of his research and continuously presented findings at national meetings and invited lectures. Dr. McLaughlin is a fellow of the AIAA and the 2010 winner of the AIAA Aeroacoustics Award. He has served on several advisory panels including the FAA REDAC Committee. He is a past chair of the Aerospace Department Chairs Association, the AIAA Aeroacoustics Technical Committee, and the AIAA Academic Affairs Committee.

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Sven Schmitz Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Sven Schmitz joined the faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State University in 2010. He received a diploma degree in Aerospace Engineering from RWTH Aachen in Germany in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from the University of California Davis in 2006. Sven spent four years as a post-doctoral researcher and project scientist at Davis before coming to Penn State. He is an expert in rotary wing aerodynamics with an emphasis on vortical flows. His research program embraces the areas of wind turbine aerodynamics and rotorcraft aeromechanics. Current activities include wind farm wake modeling, icing on wind turbines, rotor hub flows, and rotor active control.

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Irene B Mena Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Irene B. Mena has a B.S. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education.
Her research interests include first-year engineering and graduate student professional development.

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Assessment of the Learning Outcomes of Undergraduate Students in a Novel Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Course Integrating Teaching and ResearchThis study concerns the learning experiences of undergraduate students in a novel undergraduateAerospace Engineering course that integrates teaching and research. The first one-third of thecourse is devoted to conventional lectures and laboratory exercises with computer interfaced dataacquisition systems. The latter two-thirds focus on design and research projects in AerospaceEngineering with a few lectures interspersed. The teaching method of the new course has someunique characteristics: i) Undergraduates gain a research experience by working in small groupsof two or three students supervised by a volunteer graduate student research mentor, ii) Theparticular research project is developed by the course instructors and the volunteer graduatestudent research mentor as one related to the graduate student’s thesis research, and iii) Theresearch projects integrate departmental facilities and capabilities for continued research indesign, fabrication, experimentation, and computation for future course offerings. The presentstudy analyzes the experiences of the undergraduate students by answering the followingresearch questions: 1) In what ways do undergraduate students benefit from the course’s teachingmethods?, 2) How did this experience affect undergraduate students’ interest or motivation forcontinued research in a particular area?, and 3) What are the particularly important aspects of theinstructors’ responsibilities that require attention in this teaching arrangement? Pre- and post-surveys along with interviews in focus groups were used for data collection. The benefits for theundergraduate students related to their future careers but also the difficulties encountered in thegroup dynamics, communication skills, and uneven time commitments are addressed in the fullpaper.

McLaughlin, D. K., & Schmitz, S., & Mena, I. B. (2013, June), Report on the Learning Experiences of Undergraduate Students in a Novel Aerospace Engineering Course Integrating Teaching and Research Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22423

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