June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Having a diverse base of highly talented students and preparing them for the 21st century workforce is a national priority that affects U.S. innovation and competitiveness. Increasing the number and diversity of STEM graduates is important to our country’s continued economic growth and is an area of national interest as this need continues to increase. In addition to the number of STEM graduates is the need for graduates to work effectively on teams. Diversity within engineering groups has been shown to positively impact a team’s body of knowledge on a given topic, as well as improve that group’s creativity, ethical decision-making, and ability to function as a cohesive unit. Aerospace engineering is a unique case study in that traditional methods of attracting more students from increasingly diverse backgrounds have been less effective than in other STEM fields, and average percentages for minority groups in aerospace are historically lower than other engineering groups. Often times, prospective students attribute their disinterest in aerospace to a narrow focus of the field or limited job opportunities. The NSF XXX project at Institution seeks to expand diversity and inclusion within the aerospace engineering department through increasing visibility of non-traditional applications of fundamental aerospace concepts. As part of this effort, a new senior-level design elective, AERO XXX: Unconventional Applications for Aerospace Skills, has been introduced. In this course, students explore non-traditional design spaces, i.e. areas that are not perceived as typically aerospace, and how fundamental structures, fluids, and dynamics apply in these areas. The goal of the class is to encourage students to draw correlations between their field and fields they previously viewed as unrelated. The class began by introducing areas in which aerospace fundamentals were highly used and encouraging students to view aerospace from a “strengths” perspective, rather than an “end use” perspective. For example, to highlight civil and environmental engineering students completed an activity to “save the pelicans” from dangerous crosswinds over a causeway. Students developed a dynamical model for a mandible for an experience in biomedical engineering and modeled the power output and structural integrity of wind turbines for a renewable energy focus. The major component of the class, however, is a final project in which students must use the knowledge and software taught in previous courses in their aerospace curriculum to design and model either a directed flow inhaler, a smart tourniquet, or a stent deployment system. All three projects were selected based on their relevance to fluids, structures, and dynamics, as well as their distinct separation from traditional aerospace problems. The paper will discuss results from the semester-long course, including student feedback, ability of the students to apply their fundamental knowledge to areas outside of the traditional aerospace domain, and the ability of students to use this knowledge in their career choice selection.
Stroud, H. R., & Shryock, K. J., & Hartl, D. J., & Sabat, I. E., & Dray, K. K. (2019, June), Unconventional Applications of Aerospace Engineering: Effects of a Design Elective on Perception of Aerospace Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33469
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