New Freshmen Course Focuses on Broad View of AE, Communications Skills
For years, incoming freshmen could choose whether their AE 100 introductory course focused on building a remote control airplane or a rocket (last spring, they also had the choice of launching a payload using a high altitude balloon). This fall, with support from a $51,000 College of Engineering Strategic Instructional Innovations Program (SIIP) grant, the students can choose a pathway that combines aeronautics, astronautics, and more.
“The field is so much more diverse than just airplanes and rockets,” maintains Brian Woodard, AE undergraduate program director.
The new curriculum will also feature hands-on experiences. “Students (in the SIIP section) will still do a big project. The class in total will build several rockets and several airplanes,” Woodard said.
This fall, AE expects a very large freshmen class of 138 students. Woodard expects that number to be divided evenly among the traditional airplane and rocket focuses, and the SIIP section, depending upon the interests of individual students.
AE’s SIIP team, composed of Woodard, Prof. Vicki Coverstone, Associate Prof. Tim Bretl, Assistant Prof. Phil Ansell, Lecturer Steve D’Urso, and Undergraduate Coordinator Laura Gerhold, will advise Woodard on teaching the SIIP section this fall. The grant helps to pay for teaching assistant Vishwa Shah, who has started this summer in helping Woodard to put the course together.
As part of the College’s AE3: Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education initiative, SIIP competitively awards education-innovation grants to faculty teams using a model similar to research-grant funding. The motivating vision for education innovation is to teach like we do research, meaning that teaching can and should involve collaboration, creativity, excitement, measurement, perseverance, and continual improvement, as do high-quality research programs at Illinois. Now in its third year, SIIP has achieved marked success by bringing aspects of Illinois’ outstanding research culture to teaching, including an engaged community, collaborative projects, faculty-led innovation, rigorous evaluation, and a scholarly approach to pedagogical methods.