I created this course on Aspects of Aircraft Design and Control when my proposal to use a 48-hour slot in the third year of the aerospace engineering curriculum was accepted. The slot was dedicated to group work and projects rather than formal lectures.
The acceptance came as an opportunity for me both to study further a number of topics that I found captivating, and to try to share my passion for civilian aeronautics with students I particularly appreciate. In both aspects I have been delightfully overwhelmed.
I settled on the following main characteristics:
- Eight six-hour sessions, each dedicated to one given problem
- Short, mostly informal lectures built in support of the projects
- Problems simple enough to be solved within a week, but with little guidance built-in and that would leave room for student initiative and experimentation.
For a complex set of reasons the course was held entirely in English (including student reports and presentations), among students all non-native speakers of that language.
Preparation and set-up took two to three months of full-time work, spread over a semester. I took great care to select and build course materials licensed under Creative Commons licenses so that they could be freely shared and modified afterwards. With the exception of the seventh course, which I’ve had the great joy of teaching together with my good friend David, I constructed the course entirely alone, with the help of a half-dozen good books, much motivation and unspeakable amounts of dark chocolate.