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Separating Aero And Space: Establishing A Dual Track For Aerospace Engineering Students

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Rethinking Aerospace Curricula and Learning

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Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1118.1 - 11.1118.24



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Paper Authors


Thomas Hannigan Mississippi State University

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Thomas Hannigan is an Instructor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. He received his BS and MS degrees from Mississippi State University. His interests include introductory engineering mechanics, airplane flight mechanics, and he coordinates laboratory activities for the department. He holds FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certification for single, multi engine and instrument airplanes.

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Carrie Olsen Mississippi State University

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Carrie Olsen is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering. She received her BS and MS degrees from Mississippi State University and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She has 18 years of work experience with NASA in the areas of orbital mechanics, mission planning and mission operations. Dr. Olsen teaches upper division and graduate courses in orbital mechanics, space mission design and related topics. Her research interests are in aspects of orbital mechanics as related to space mission planning and operations.

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David Bridges Mississippi State University

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David Bridges is an Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Mississippi State, and his Ph.D. in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology. He teaches undergraduate and graduate aerodynamics courses as well as aircraft performance and stability courses on the undergraduate level. His interests are in separated flows, vortical flows, and boundary layer stability and transition.

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Keith Koenig Mississippi State University

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Keith Koenig is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering. He received his BS degree from Mississippi State University and his MS and PhD degrees from the California Institute of Technology. Prof. Koenig teaches introductory courses in aerospace engineering and flight mechanics, and upper division courses in aerodynamics and propulsion. His research areas include rocket and scramjet propulsion and sports equipment engineering.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Separating Aero and Space: Establishing a Dual Track for Aerospace Engineering Students

Introduction The recent renewal of interest in returning to space, with manned missions to the Moon and Mars being actively discussed and planned, has caused a resurgence in student interest in aerospace engineering. The success of the X-Prize competition at spurring private manned space development has also fueled the imaginations and heightened the motivation of students to study space related topics, and to pursue a college degree that will prepare them to work in the space industry. Meanwhile, a very mature space industry already exists to support a myriad of space- related industries. Informal surveys of entering freshmen indicate that nearly half of them would like to work in space-related jobs during their aerospace engineering careers. The depth and breadth of a well established and diverse aerospace engineering program, and the emphasis of this program primarily on aeronautical education, research, and technology development is documented. The contrast of the needs of employers in support of space-related industries, from industry and alumni perspectives is described. The discussions that established a definitive need for a dual track system for aerospace engineering students are detailed. The process that led to the implementation of a revised curriculum is described. To begin the process of changing the aerospace engineering curriculum to better server the needs of undergraduates interested in a greater emphasis on space-related courses, an internet study of the published curricula of various institutions was conducted. Synopses of each program investigated are included, and contrasts and similarities noted along with a discussion of the wide variety of ways that the common requirements are implemented. Changes to courses ranging from introductory, intermediate and upper division and technical electives, and laboratory courses are described. Development of additional technical elective and graduate courses are discussed.

Background The official program description that has been listed in Mississippi State University catalogs for many years expressed the intention to graduate students well prepared to enter into the national aerospace engineering workforce: The Department of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University provides an accredited undergraduate curriculum with the mission of preparing students to enter the workplace as qualified entry-level aerospace engineers or to enter any aerospace engineering graduate program adequately prepared for advanced study. This mission is accomplished by a strong foundation in mathematics and physical and engineering sciences upon which student problem solving and application skills are developed. The curriculum stresses analytical and communication skills, with particular emphasis placed on engineering design throughout the curriculum. A capstone design experience in the senior year provides the opportunity to integrate design, analytical, and problem solving skills along with communication skills in a team environment which emulates aerospace engineering practice.

The mission1 of this Aerospace Engineering Department is accomplished by the following learning objectives:

Hannigan, T., & Olsen, C., & Bridges, D., & Koenig, K. (2006, June), Separating Aero And Space: Establishing A Dual Track For Aerospace Engineering Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1250

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015