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Revised Aerodynamics Curriculum and Instruction for Improved Student Outcomes

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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 Curriculum and Collaborations

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Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1256.1 - 22.1256.15

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Paper Authors


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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Jenefer Husman Arizona State University

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Jenefer Husman received a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at 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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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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Wen-Ting Chung Arizona State University

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Revised Aerodynamics Curriculum and Instruction for Improved Student OutcomesIntroductionThis paper describes the implementation of a first course in aerodynamics revised in both contentand methodology as part of a revamping of the Junior-year aeronautics curriculum at a large,public university. The curriculum revision is supported by NASA’s E.2 Innovation inAeronautics Instruction. Previous pilot studies conducted at the university have demonstratedthat Aerospace Engineering students reported significantly lower confidence in their ability tosucceed in and lower perceived usefulness of their junior-level courses as compared with theirfreshman and sophomore courses [1].The aim of the course revision is to modernize the content and the approach to teaching andlearning that content. The original hypothesis stated that a more contemporary approach wouldstimulate students’ interest in learning course material since they would view the content as moreuseful to them in their future careers. Prior studies have concluded that conventional teachingmethods in university engineering courses undermine students’ motivation to persist in pursuingan engineering career [2-4].ApproachThe course was constructed using several philosophical changes from the previous coursedelivery:1. Utilize flow-simulation software (Overflow), including a post-processing visualization package (FieldView), in both lecture and homework assignments.2. Use “just-in-time” approach to integrate laboratory, homework assignments and lecture so that students investigate specific concepts on their own just before being introduced to the mathematical analysis describing those concepts.3. Remove substantial classical content, such as potential flow solutions, in favor of introducing numerical simulation.The most significant change to the course was the homework assignments, which requirestudents to perform numerical simulations and to utilize the results to postulate fundamentalaerodynamic concepts such as the slope of the lift curve, the variation of induced drag with wingspan, etc. Students discover these concepts on their own before they derive the simple theories(thin-airfoil, lifting-line, boundary-layer, etc.) that predict them.Since students taking this course do not have previous exposure to CFD, grid generation, post-processing or even, in some cases, computer programming, preparing the software package forstudent use presented some technical challenges. The paper will discuss the decision to use theOverflow/FieldView software combination. It will also discuss development of the MATLAB-based GUI that collects student-input case specifications (airfoil section, angle of attack, Machnumber, etc.) and then creates FORTRAN code that automatically generates a computationalgrid and an input file for Overflow.Evaluation and DiscussionStudents from two semesters of the aerodynamics course – Fall 2008 (traditional) and Fall 2009(non-traditional) – were surveyed. The surveys used in this evaluation reflect well-establishedscales that have generated valid and reliable responses from student [5]. The evaluation resultsshowed that students in the nontraditional class (Fall 2009) retained their belief that they canimprove their ability to succeed through study and effort rather than solely relying on innateintellectual ability. Students’ belief that intellectual capability can be improved has been shownto be critical to their use of learning strategies and persistent efforts [6-8]. The non-traditionalimplementation is currently in progress in Fall 2010 with further evaluation underway.References[1] Husman, J & Chung, W-.T. Unpublished Data, 2010[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] Seymour, E. and Hewitt, M. N., Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave theSciences. Westview Press, 1997.[5] 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.[6] Dweck, C.S., Self-theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development,Philadelphia: Psychology Press, 2000.[7] Roedel, T.D., and G. Schraw, G., “Beliefs about Intelligence and Academic Goals,”Contemporary Educational Psychology, Vol. 20, 1995, pp. 464-468.[8] Dupeyrat, C., and C. Mariné, “Implicit Theories of Intelligence, Achievement Goals, andLearning Strategy Use,” Psychologische Beitrage, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2001, pp. 34-52.

Wells, V. L., & Husman, J., & Shankar, P., & Chung, W. (2011, June), Revised Aerodynamics Curriculum and Instruction for Improved Student Outcomes Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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