The Sailplane Class @ Penn State

 
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Since 1989, the Department of Aerospace Engineering of The Pennsylvania State University has offered a special undergraduate project course that has a strong emphasis on "hands on" design and fabrication. Specifically, a group of approximately twenty-five students, freshmen through seniors, is involved in the design and construction of a variety of different sailplanes. Students can and are expected to enroll in this course for every semester during their undergraduate study. During that time, the students experience the cooperative, multi-disciplinary team environment that is required for solving the problems related to the design of an aerospace vehicle. The basic course structure consists primarily of three components.

The first, lecture, provides the student with the necessary theoretical background of modern sailplanes and their design requirements.

The second component is concerned with design groups of four to six students, in which the students design and analyze sailplanes, such as their performance, structure, stability and control, and so forth.

The third component is the fabrication of parts that have been designed and analyzed theoretically, such as the current project of an Easy-to-Build sailplane made out of modern composite materials.

The Sailplane Class
The Fall 2002 Sailplane Class After Launching Rocket Gliders