Journal Assignment Summary

Students will keep a personal journal with entries that reflect new knowledge or understanding gained each week about the aerospace industry, the current events shaping it, and their own interests. Reflection is the process of gathering, recording and reviewing of data. That process allows us to look critically and evaluate information, enabling us to make decisions - or ask more questions. The first class includes instruction about keeping a reflective journal.

A successful journal entry is more than a restatement of the reading or discussion. It is your thought and analysis of the topics read and/or discussed each week; how do they impact the industry and how do they impact you.

As you prepare your journal assignments, questions to keep in mind:

  1. What are the key concepts/ideas and why are they important?
  2. What questions does this reading and/or discussion raise for you?
  3. How does the information in this reading and/or discussion relate to your life, your career?
  4. How does the information in this reading and/or discussion relate to other material raised in this class or other classes?


Entries about a page (approximately 400 words) in length should be made following each class using an informal, reflective style. The journal should be kept electronically in a printable form. It will be handed in three times during the semester (see schedule). The final journal should be about 10 pages in length.

30% of the semester grade will be based upon the journal.


Prompts for Reflective Analysis (PDF)

Sample Journals

In each week of the seminar, students read chapters in Lean Enterprise Value: Insights from MIT’s Lead Aerospace Initiative and articles that the professors chose from Aviation Week & Space Technology. Also, students listened to short presentations by other faculty and/or industry professionals.

Students participated in class discussion and debate. In addition, each student kept a journal with entries that reflected new knowledge or understanding gained each week. Each entry was expected to be substantive (approximately 400 words) and reflective although informal in style. The journals were collected and read by faculty three times during the semester, and at the end of the semester, each student had written approximately 10 pages.

Student writing styles and method of organization varied, but the excerpts that follow give a sense of how three students approached the journal task. The excerpts are used with the permission of the students.

Freight operations
Research directions   
Engineering challenges in business (PDF) (Courtesy of Christopher Graff. Used with permission.)
Ethics and accountability (PDF) (Courtesy of Matthew Richards. Used with permission.)