• PLTW   

     Aerospace Engineering Course Description

    Students enrolling in Aerospace Engineering must also have taken  Intro to Engineering and Principles of Engineering earning a C or better.
    Aerospace Engineering (AE) is the study of the engineering discipline which develops new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space exploration.

    Course Overview

    Aerospace Engineering ignites students’ learning in the fundamentals of atmospheric and space flight. Aerospace Engineering is one of the specialization courses in the PLTW Engineering program. The course deepens the skills and knowledge of an engineering student within the context of atmospheric and space flight. Students explore the fundamentals of flight in air and space as they bring the concepts to life by designing and testing components related to flight such as an airfoil, propulsion system, and a rocket. They learn orbital mechanics concepts and apply these by creating models using industry-standard software. They also apply aerospace concepts to alternative applications such as a wind turbine and parachute. Students simulate a progression of operations to explore a planet, including creating a map of the terrain with a model satellite and using the map to execute a mission using an autonomous robot.


    Unit 1: Introduction to Aerospace

    The course begins with introducing students to aerospace engineering while providing a foundation of knowledge related to flight. In this unit students explore the rich history of aerospace achievement that advanced the industry. Students build a foundational understanding of how flight within the Earth’s atmosphere is possible. Students learn about the parts of an aircraft, how aircraft are controlled, and how the four forces of flight (lift, weight, thrust, and drag) interrelate. Each of the forces of flight is explored individually to emphasize their impact. Students use a simulator to design an airfoil and analyze performance under changing conditions. An option is included for students to design, build, and test an airfoil in a wind tunnel if available. Students apply their knowledge and skills through a series of activities and projects to design, optimize, build, and test a competitive glider. Students use a flight simulator to experience how aircraft respond to control systems. Students are introduced to navigation systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). Students apply their knowledge of GPS to plan a route and exchange this plan with another group to evaluate the plan’s accuracy. Students learn how aircraft are safely coordinated through Air Traffic Control (ATC). Students apply this knowledge to scenarios where students make decisions in a simulated environment.

    Cessna                Station  
     History of Aerospace Engineering
    Componets        Lift Equation

    Physics of Flight 


    Unit 2: Aerospace Design

    The course continues when students to learn about aerospace materials and their application. Students explore properties of some aerospace materials and design an aircraft structural component in Computer Aided Design (CAD) simulation software. Students create and test composite samples which represent structural components used in aircraft construction. Students develop a deeper understanding of one of the four forces of atmospheric flight, thrust, while understanding the foundation of spacecraft propulsion. Students ally this knowledge by designing and testing aircraft propulsion systems using simulation software. Students design, build, and test their own model rockets.

    MomentOfInetrtia        FrameDesign

    Aircraft Structure Design

     IMAG0444_Edited                        SpacePropulsion               Rocket
      Propulsion Systems                                                                Model Rocket Engine Testing

    Unit 3: Space

    The goal of this unit is to introduce students space related-concepts defined in aerospace engineering. Students are oriented to the dimensions of space by relating it to distances which they can see in the world close to them. Students learn about the accomplishments in space exploration and the legal system which governs these activities. Students explore the growing space debris problem and design and mock up a space junk mitigation system.

    Students are oriented to the need for various types of satellite orbits and how different orbits are well-suited for different satellite missions. Students will learn about the Keplerian Element Set and Kepler’s Laws of Motion then then apply this through creating a model of the International Space Station orbit using Systems Tool Kit (STK). STK is a powerful software package used by aerospace engineers to model air- and space-based systems.


     Space Junk       ObitalPatterns

     Space Junk                                                         Orbital Patterns

     STK                    STK2

     Systems Tool Kit (STK Software)


    Unit 4: Alternative Applications

    The goal of this unit is for students to consider applications of aerospace concepts beyond the design of aircraft and spacecraft and to explore career opportunities in the field of aerospace engineering. Students integrate mechanical, electrical, and software systems in the context of accomplishing a sequence of objectives to explore a new planet. In this lesson students learn to design, create, and test using a robot modeling system which includes input sensors and output devices. This system provides students a platform to model systems such as a robot and satellite. Students use the robot system to create a satellite model to gather elevation data of a terrain. This data is processed to generate a topographical map that they use as an input to planning a rover mission to that terrain. Students use the modeling system to design, build, program, and test an autonomous vehicle which simulate a rover sent to explore a remote location such as a planet or moon. An optional project is available for differentiated instruction in a classroom with a diverse level of student knowledge and skill. Students use the modeling system to create a physical simulation of an autopilot system. Students create a program to use an accelerometer input to control the output of an aircraft control surface.

     Alternative        Satellite Rover
     Alternative                                       Satellite Robot 


                              Fly-By-Wire Simulation