This Course at MIT

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Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 16.90 Computational Methods in Aerospace Engineering as it was taught by Professors Karen Willcox and Qiqi Wang in Spring 2014.

This course provided an introduction to numerical methods and computational techniques arising in aerospace engineering. Applications were drawn from aerospace structures, aerodynamics, dynamics and control, and aerospace systems. Techniques covered included numerical integration of systems of ordinary differential equations; numerical discretization of partial differential equations; and probabilistic methods for quantifying the impact of variability. Specific emphasis was given to finite volume methods in fluid mechanics, and finite element methods in structural mechanics.

This course was taught using the Residential MITx platform

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Attain a conceptual understanding of computational methods commonly used for analysis and design of aerospace systems
  • Achieve a working knowledge of computational methods, including experience implementing them in model problems drawn from aerospace engineering applications
  • Possess a basic foundation in theoretical techniques to analyze the behavior of computational methods
 

Instructor Insights

Because students came to class having already engaged with the course materials, we were able to use in-class time for recitation-style interactions. Instead of lecturing for the full session, we focused on talking through the difficult parts of the theory and methods they had read about before class. Flipping the classroom also created opportunities for problem-solving in class.

— Karen Willcox

Below, Professor Karen Willcox describes various aspects of how she taught 16.90 Computational Methods in Aerospace Engineering.

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

Requirements Satisfied

16.90 can be applied towards a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, but is not required.

Offered

Every spring semester

The Classroom

  • Four rows of tables, with 10 seats in each row. Blackboards at the front of the room.

    Lecture

    This lecture-style classroom has a seating capacity of 48. The room can be darkened for viewing videos, and has an LCD video projector.

 

Assessment

Grade Breakdown

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by reading questions and problem sets. 12% Reading questions and problem sets
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by projects. 36% Projects
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by midterm exam. 25% Midterm exam
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by final exam. 25% Final exam
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by class participation. 2% Class participation

Instructor Insights on Assessment

Professor Karen Willcox shares her insights about assessing students through oral exams.

Student Information

22 students took this course when it was offered in Spring 2014.

Breakdown by Year

Mostly juniors and seniors

Breakdown by Major

Mostly aeronautics and astronautics majors

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

3 hours per week
  • Course met 2 times a week for 1.5 hours per session; 25 sessions total.
  • WebEx broadcasting of class sessions allowed students time away from campus to participate in engineering competitions or presenting at conferences.
  • Sessions included concept questions, small group exercises, and project work.
 

Out of Class

9 hours per week
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
2 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
3 No classes throughout MIT. Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
4 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
5 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
6 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
7 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. Oral exam scheduled. Oral exam scheduled. Oral exam scheduled. Oral exam scheduled.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
10 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
11 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
12 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
13 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
14 Class session scheduled; reading/homework due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled, but reading/homework due.
15 Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT.
16 Oral exam scheduled. Oral exam scheduled. Oral exam scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when class sessions are held. Class session
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate reading/homework due dates. Reading/homework due
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when oral exams are held. Oral exam