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ASU, NASA modernizing aeronautical education

May 13, 2009

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded a grant to Valana Wells, associate professor in Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, to lead work on developing what NASA describes as “a revolutionary approach” to teaching aeronautical engineering.

Wells said it involves, in large part, modernizing teaching in aeronautical education to incorporate “the use of computational tools for aircraft analysis that were not available when many of today’s textbooks were written.”

The new teaching methods will first be implemented in MAE 360 (Aerodynamics) and MAE 313 (Aircraft Dynamics and Control). Wells’ co-investigators for the project are professor Kyle Squires, chair of the department, and Praveen Shankar, a lecturer in the department.

Jenefer Husman, an associate professor of educational psychology at ASU, will evaluate the courses to determine the effectiveness of the new teaching approaches for students.

The project, Comprehensive Transformation of Junior-year Aeronautics Instruction, will involve collaboration with researchers at NASA and other government agencies, as well as industry researchers.

“NASA sees a critical need to modernize aeronautics education,” said Wells, who has been on the faculty at ASU for more than 20 years.

NASA anticipates granting the project close to $390,000 over two years. The initial grant is for $182,512.