Introduction to Aerospace Engineering

Project:  Design a Venetian, High-Altitude-Earth, Martian, or Titan surveillance airship, and design, build, and fly a terrestrial model

This is a Systems Engineering Experience that includes an extensive design-build-test-compete component. This course introduces students to practical Aerospace Engineering processes by the means of design, build, test, and operation of simple flight vehicles (e.g. airship). Students will design a surveillance airship for an extraterrestrial environment (Venus, Mars, or Titan), and fabricate and fly a terrestrial model. Students will be exposed to multiple disciplines in both engineering and the sciences including Aerospace, Electrical and Materials Engineering, and Atmospheric Physics. The class involves hands-on experiences covering nearly all aspects of a real mission including concept proposal, design, fabrication, test, operations, analysis, documentation, and presentation of results. There will be individual training and experiments on fundamental diagnostic instruments, sensors, and computer tools: multi-meters, power supplies, temperature and pressure sensors, thermal-vacuum systems, micro-controllers and radio-controlled components. This section emphasizes individual hands-on skills, oral and written communication, and working effectively in a team environment. The course is supported by a dedicated facility. Please note that this is an intensive course involving a laboratory and a minimum of six contact hours per week.

Extra class events: There are two Saturday events involving oral presentations and competitions where students display their flight vehicles. The first is on September 28 from 9 am-2 pm. The second is November 23 from 8 am-4:30 pm. Both events are held in 1109 FXB and the FXB Atrium. A midterm examination is also scheduled on Friday, October 11 for two hours preferably between 4:30 and 7:30 pm in 1109 FXB.

Any student registering for this class needs to participate in these activities. Further, during the weeks preceding the two competitions, there will be optional lab time during the evening and weekends so that teams can finish their hardware and documentation. Each team will also need to schedule a practice oral presentation on either Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday evening before the Saturday events (plan on one hour out of the period from 5-10 pm). This scheduling is done in class.

Please note that this class has activities that require flexibility in scheduling during the term and that may conflict with other University activities. The class events noted above frequently conflict with other activities like Band, fraternities and sororities, and Crew. We have found that students involved in UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) or MRADS (Michigan Research and Discovery Scholars) have difficulty being sufficiently flexible to meet adequately with their teams. This course is best suited to be taken with first-year Chemistry (e.g. Chem 130). First-year Physics (e.g. Phy 140) often involves scheduling conflicts.