June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
In recent years, the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) has seen an explosive growth, thanks to the drop in cost of the aerial vehicles themselves, as well as the associated avionics. Additionally, the release of the Part 107 UAS rules by the FAA has resulted in a new landscape for UAS operations in the National Airspace System (NAS) and it is reasonable to expect that UAS will only be incorporated into novel and yet to be conceived applications in the near future. As it stands today, while the established players in the aerospace industry, like the major aircraft manufacturers, are still a major part of this UAS landscape, most of the growth and novel applications are driven by small businesses and startup companies. In this relatively uncharted landscape of UAS operations in the NAS, there is significant competition among UAS designers, manufacturers and end users in coming up with new and novel designs and operations for the UAS. As with other industries, it is natural to expect that the invisible hand of the market, as well as evolution by natural selection will shape the future of UAS designs and operations – and in a few years, it will result in a small, but proven and well-established set of UAS designs that are used for most of the UAS operations.
Thus, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that during these initial years, there will be a demand from the industry for aerospace engineers who are capable of designing, building and flight testing a UAS from the ground up, purely from specifications/requirements. On the other hand, as time passes, and the designs converge to a small set of proven UAS platforms, the demand for graduates from a multitude of engineering disciplines, including aerospace, electrical and computer science, as well as sciences including chemistry, biology, geography, geographical information sciences, who are capable of leveraging these UAS platforms to perform any given goal/mission is only going to grow.
Very few academic programs, if any exist in the country that provide this comprehensive experience to their graduates. On the other hand, a number of student UAS competitions like the annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) sponsored Design, Build, Fly (DBF) competition, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) AeroDesign competitions, as well as the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Student Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) competitions are ideal avenues for students to complement their classroom knowledge with hands-on experimental experience.
Among these competitions, AUVSI’s SUAS competition is unique in that it is designed to be a truly multi-disciplinary “systems design” competition – student teams are required to execute complex mission scenarios such as aerial photography, target (image) recognition, geo-tagging, geo-referencing, obstacle avoidance and others. In this paper, we will explore the efficacy of student participation in the AVUSI SUAS competition in complementing a student’s classroom experience in learning core aerospace engineering concepts with skills from other disciplines that are needed to succeed in a “systems” world.
At the same time, we will also explore the efficacy of the set of core courses in a typical aerospace engineering curriculum for use in such competitions. This could potentially identify topics as well as teaching methodologies that can be improved to enhance the student learning experience and help develop graduates with a more diverse and complementary knowledge and skill set.
Gururajan, S. (2017, June), Work in Progress: Feedback Reinforcement of Classroom Learning of Aerospace Design and Performance Concepts Through a Hands-on Design-Build-Fly-Redesign Loop Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29158
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