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The New Aerospace Engineering Curriculum At The Ohio State University

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.568.1 - 3.568.7

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Paper Authors

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M. R. Foster

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H. Öz

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

Session 2202

The New Aerospace Engineering Curriculum at The Ohio State University

H. Öz and M. R. Foster Aerospace Engineering Program Department of Aerospace Engineering, Applied Mechanics and Aviation The Ohio State University

I. Introduction and Background

Our discipline has changed a great deal since the boom years of aeronautical and astronautical engineering in the 1950’s and 1960’s; apart from obvious changes due to altered geopolitics, there have also been changes in the way engineers do their jobs in the workplace. Perhaps more important to educators, there have been changes in the student culture. The Course of Study for Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at The Ohio State University changed significantly once before, in 1970, when the university made a transition from a 5-year B. S. degree to what had become the standard everywhere: the 4-year degree. Since that time, only minimal changes have occurred.

Though the curriculum has remained essentially static, the student world has changed dramat- ically. Sociologists have thoroughly documented many of those changes; one of the most illuminating is the cultural analysis by Postman1 in a popular account of the cultural shifts due to the impact of television. Of prime concern to engineering educators are two of his points: (1) Knowledge has become fragmented, exemplified in the ‘sound bytes’ now characteristic of our national life. (2) A society characterized by visual communication as our is, as opposed to print communication as ours used to be, has more difficulty expressing complex ideas accurately; less precision is inherent in the medium. In addition, for a variety of reasons--among them, increased tuition at large state universities, lessened availability of student-aid dollars, and some unwillingness for students to defer material gratification--more and more students work in jobs for 20 or so hours per week. This increased number of working students means that, for many, the “four-year degree” is simply fiction. Five years has become the norm at many public universities. Further, perhaps in part because of less time for study for some due to those work commitments, it is the common observation of many university faculty members that many students, though certainly not all, appear less able to assimilate information learned in a sequence of courses into any kind of integrated whole. Neither specific skills nor general knowledge seem to penetrate course boundaries. Typically, a professor utilizes a tool that has been taught in a prior course to solve a particular engineering problem; students seem mystified and claim they have “never seen it before”, a statement at odds with what was in fact taught in the preceding, prerequisite course. Certainly Postman’s point about the fragmentation of knowledge may help to explain the phenomenon, but provides no remedies.

Foster, M. R., & Öz, H. (1998, June), The New Aerospace Engineering Curriculum At The Ohio State University Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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