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Systems Engineering Approach in Aircraft Design Education: Techniques and Challenges

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1453.1 - 26.1453.15



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Paper Authors


Mohammad Sadraey Daniel Webster College Orcid 16x16

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Mohammad H. Sadraey is an Associate Professor in the Engineering School at the Daniel Webster College, Nashua, New Hampshire, USA. Dr. Sadraey's main research interests are in aircraft design techniques, and design and automatic control of unmanned aircraft. He received his MSc. in Aerospace Engineering in 1995 from RMIT, Melbourne, Australia, and his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas, Kansas, USA. Dr. Sadraey is a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and a member of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

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Nicholas Bertozzi Daniel Webster College

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Nick Bertozzi is a Professor of Engineering at Daniel Webster College (DWC) and Dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SECS). His major interest over the past 18 years has been the concurrent engineering design process, an interest that was fanned into flame by attending an NSF faculty development workshop in 1996 led by Ron Barr and Davor Juricic. Nick has a particular interest in helping engineering students develop good communications skills and has made this a SECS priority. Over the past ten years he and other engineering and humanities faculty colleagues have mentored a number of undergraduate student teams who have co-authored and presented papers and posters at Engineering Design Graphics Division (EDGD) and other ASEE, CDIO (, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) meetings as well. Nick was delighted to serve as the EDGD program chair for the 2008 ASEE Summer Conference and as program co-chair with Kathy Holliday-Darr for the 68th EDGD Midyear meeting at WPI in October 2013. Nick is currently serving as the Vice Chair of the ASEE EDGD.

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Systems Engineering Approach in Aircraft Design Education; Techniques and ChallengesAn aircraft is a system composed of a set of interrelated components working together toward somecommon aerial objective or purpose. Primary objectives include safe flight achieved at a low cost.Aircraft are extremely complex products comprised of many subsystems, components and parts. Aircraftsystems, due to the high cost and the risks associated with their development are a major user of systemsengineering methodologies.Aircraft design is primarily an analytical process; and essentially contains its own body of knowledge thatis independent of the science-based analysis tools. The world of aircraft design involves many challengesand uncertainties. The design process is divided into three major phases: 1. Conceptual design phase, 2.Preliminary design phase, and 3. Detail design phase. These are artificial categories that, along with testand evaluation, make up the four basic phase of system design. After each round of design, a test andevaluation is conducted to compare the characteristics of the designed system with the designrequirements.The traditional engineering education is structured to emphasize on mathematics, physical, sciences, andengineering sciences. This paper presents the systems engineering approach in aircraft design education.The approach opens a new horizon to aerospace engineering students and excites them to embrace thenew challenges. Throughout this approach, various techniques for generating creative design alternativesare introduced. The nature of aircraft design project; complexity, multidisciplinary, and variousconstraints; suggests that the systems engineering approach to be the best candidate.The implementation of systems engineering in aircraft design education progressed through a couple ofyears. The course materials and course design was evolved over a number of years. The implementationof systems engineering requires a flawless interface between team members working toward a commonsystem thinking to correctly execute systems engineering process.The course basically has a fairly standard format; it mainly consists of three one-hour weekly lectures.The topics and the lectures are organized such that they follow the systems engineering approach. Inpractice; after one week of introduction; one week is spent on conceptual design; two weeks onpreliminary design; and about 12 weeks on details design. In the details design section; the design ofmajor aircraft components such as wing, tail (horizontal and vertical); fuselage, propulsion system; andlanding gear are covered.During the course of a semester, various design requirements are introduced. There are specific designrequirements which are required by the customer, and must be addressed by the design team. However,there are other design requirements which customer is not necessarily aware of and may not verballydesire them. In this section a list of design-related requirements are briefly reviewed as follows:Performance requirements; Stability requirements; Handling requirements; Operational requirements;Affordability requirements; Reliability requirements; Maintainability requirements; Producibilityrequirements; Evaluatability requirements; Usability requirements; Safety (airworthiness for aircraft)requirements; Crashworthiness requirements; Supportability and serviceability requirements;Sustainability requirements; Disposability requirements; Marketability requirements; Environmentalrequirements; Detectability requirements; Standards requirements; and Legal requirements.The implementation of systems engineering requires a flawless interface between team members workingtoward a common system thinking to correctly execute the design process. The focus of this paper wouldbe very much on techniques and challenges on curricular structures, course design, implementation;assessment and evaluation. 1

Sadraey, M., & Bertozzi, N. (2015, June), Systems Engineering Approach in Aircraft Design Education: Techniques and Challenges Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24790

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