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The Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy requires its graduates to complete an integrative capstone design in their senior year. One of these projects involves the design, construction, testing, and demonstration of a small, highly autonomous, uninhabited aerial system (UAS). This particular capstone option was added to the list of available capstone projects in the fall of 2005. In the past, while students have been able to complete the design process relatively well, an area of deficiency for all capstone design teams has been the physical modeling of their design before construction. This paper will describe the progression of physical modeling and analysis for the systemspsila air vehicles over the course of the three years of the projectpsilas existence. In the first year, the two teams did little or no modeling. During the second year of the project, with three different teams, some modeling was attempted, but not verified through testing once the designs were constructed. At the start of the third year, one of the faculty advisors developed a detailed procedure for aerodynamic modeling and performance analysis, called the ldquoAlpha .60 Laboratoryrdquo. To augment the previous yearpsilas design pedagogy with an inductive learning component, the students were required to complete the laboratory on an existing airframe. They were then required to apply the same analysis to each alternative developed through the engineering design process. Upon selection and construction of their final design, the students will be required to validate their analytical predictions through flight testing. Preliminary results have shown marked improvement in the detail of the analysis and the level of the studentspsila understanding of the underlying physics. An assessment of the laboratorypsilas impact on this yearpsilas designs will also be presented.
Date of Conference: 22-25 Oct. 2008