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Teaching Aircraft Design To Undergraduate Students In A Mechanical Engineering Program

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Design and Manufacturing Experiences II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1159.1 - 9.1159.11

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Paper Authors

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W. Bowman

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

Teaching Aircraft Design to Undergraduate Students in a Mechanical Engineering Program

Dr. W. Jerry Bowman

Brigham Young University Provo, Utah 84602


This paper describes informal methods used to teach aircraft design to undergraduates in a traditional Mechanical Engineering program. Freshman and sophomore students are introduced to the topic by way of a club environment where they do a series of design, build, and fly projects. This paper will provide details about the specific design projects assigned and the method used to introduce the students to aircraft design.


Each year, the Mechanical Engineering department at Brigham Young University admits 140 students into its undergraduate program. Typically, some of these students are interested in airplanes. Their enthusiasm makes it possible to experiment with different methods of teaching aeronautical engineering topics in a mechanical engineering environment.

As a minimum, the Mechanical Engineering students at Brigham Young University takes 131.5 semester hours to graduate. Forty of these hours are used to fulfill general education requirements. The remaining 91.5 hours are dedicated to math, science and engineering. In the engineering area, the students can select nine hours of courses from a list of technical electives. The remaining 82.5 hours are specified. The department offers one technical elective course that is related to airplane design. That course is offered once each year during the spring term. There are no airplane courses offered during the fall or winter semesters when most of the students are attending classes. As a result, in the past, few students have had an opportunity to study aeronautical topics.

To expand opportunities to learn about aircraft design to more students, three programs were initiated. The first was an R/C airplane club. The club members learn to design, build and fly their own airplanes. The second opportunity consists of special topics courses offered to small groups of students where they work on specific airplane design issues. The third opportunity is the student’s senior design project. Some seniors are selected to do aircraft related projects.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Bowman, W. (2004, June), Teaching Aircraft Design To Undergraduate Students In A Mechanical Engineering Program Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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