June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1571.1 - 26.1571.11
The Role of Radio-Controlled Model Airplanes in the Education of Aerospace EngineersStudents enter our classrooms with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. There was atime when students came into engineering with a tinkering background (hands-on experiencesand use of tools), but today’s students spend more time virtually experiencing the world. Inaerospace engineering, students who have spent time flying airplanes, radio-controlled models,and/or model rockets are able to relate concepts they learn in class to something they have seenor experienced first-hand. For example, a student who is a pilot and has experienced a stall seemsto have more interest in boundary layers and flow separation because of their time in the cockpit.The experience gained in flying radio-controlled models provides a degree of intuition that helpsstudents better understand the importance of properly sizing the tail of an airplane. In an effort toprovide more students with such practical and enriching experiences, aerospace engineeringstudents at xx University have access to radio-controlled airplanes in a special projects class.This class is a unique offering in that it is offered first-year through graduation, and studentsnormally take it every semester during their programs. In this hands-on and interactiveclassroom, the students have traditionally (over the past two and a half decades) designed andfabricated full-scale sailplanes, but over the past few years, the class has been working on ahuman-powered aircraft as an entry to the Kremer Prize Competition that is administered by theRoyal Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. This effort is largely student driven and requires agreat deal of discipline and self-motivation from those involved. In addition to working on thehuman-powered aircraft, a sub-group of students design and construct a model airplane thatcompetes in the annual AIAA Design-Build-Fly (DBF) competition.This paper describes student experiences flying the radio-controlled airplanes. The studentsresponded to a pre- and post-survey to gauge how they perceived the use of the airplanes and tosee how their thinking about aerodynamics changed. The instructor and teaching assistantidentify the benefits and strategies to consider when using radio-controlled airplanes in anaerospace engineering curriculum. With an emphasis on hands-on and applied learning, studentsare able to make deeper connections between what is being taught and how it is applied in theworld beyond the classroom.
Jackson, K. S., & Maughmer, M. D., & Pipenberg, B. T., & Grasser, N. J., & Van Wert, S. (2015, June), The Role of Radio-Controlled Model Airplanes in the Education of Aerospace Engineers Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24909
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