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Teaching Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Students To Reason And To Communicate About Complex Design Choices

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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

Approaches to Emerging Topics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1232.1 - 11.1232.9



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Craig Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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

Teaching Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Students to Reason and to Communicate about Complex Design Choices Jennifer L. Craig Program in Writing and the Humanities and Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract: Undergraduate engineering students who are enrolled in capstone design courses are introduced to the multi-dimensional tasks of complex design. The capstone design course also is often the student’s introduction to the ways that engineers both reason and communicate about design choices in their professional community. The undergraduate engineering curricula can offer the technical and theoretical knowledge and computational methods that are necessary to engineering students but still not be sufficiently explicit about which pieces of evidence or methods are more reliable in a making a complex design choice. Without the clarity of reasoned thought that optimal design requires, high quality communication is not likely. The paper describes a pedagogical strategy designed and implemented to strengthen student reasoning about design choice.

Introduction and background: In the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, aerospace engineering students complete their undergraduate degrees with one or a combination of capstone design courses that involve complex design assignments or experiments. In these courses, students are introduced to the multi-dimensional design space with its constraints and requirements and also to experimental protocols. The written design proposals and reports and formal presentations that are required are less like the usual undergraduate problem sets and more like the communication deliverables that professional engineers produce. Faced

Craig, J. (2006, June), Teaching Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Students To Reason And To Communicate About Complex Design Choices Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1121

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