Enhancing systems engineering content in aerospace courses: Capstone design and senior technical electives
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© American Society for Engineering Education, 2015. Systems Engineering (SE) has long been a staple in the aerospace engineering industry, but it has been slow to gain traction in academia. This is due to both the challenge of incorporating SE content in the traditional framework of engineering curricula and the lack of experience with SE by academic practitioners. This paper presents the results of a 17 month project between two large public institutions to investigate and incorporate educational tools and practical experiences in the teaching of SE in existing design courses, to be later transitioned into a broad range of courses within the curricula. The main objective of the project introduced students to the practical applications of the fundamentals of SE without displacing other course content. The target courses at Texas A&M University included three senior-level courses, of which two were required capstone design courses and one an optional technical design elective. For the capstone design courses, this content was added primarily to the early part of the semester and consisted of identifying a customer need, conducting a requirements definition study, developing a Concept of Operations, and subsequently translating it into a Request for Proposal. For the design elective, this project enhanced prior SE content in the course but then integrated the course into the collective instruction within the broad Systems Engineering Design Initiative effort at the institution. The paper will present the modifications to course content, pedagogy used in the project, results from assessment of the project, lessons learned by the instructors, and comments from both students in the course and industry advisory board members who reviewed the course deliverables. In summary, project outcomes were achieved, and the students felt their experiences were particularly rewarding. Students enjoyed teaming on a project involving another university, and the external industry advisory board members remarked on the valuable real-world experience students received through the project. This approach to incorporating SE content within current courses with minimal disruption to other content should be applicable to most engineering programs.
author list (cited authors)
Valasek, J., & Shryock, K. J.