The San Diego Air and Space Museum partnering with Clarkson University to aid university students in Aeronautical Engineering.

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The San Diego Air and Space Museum is partnering with Clarkson University to aid university students in Aeronautical Engineering. Clarkson is a private, national research university that is a leader in technological education and sustainable economic development through teaching, research and scholarship and innovation. In addition, Clarkson stretches the boundaries of solution-oriented thinking by looking to what’s next, challenging the status quo, and leveraging our combined ingenuity at the intersections of science, technology, engineering, arts and business to create real impact, relevant innovations and enduring value in the world.

The team at the Museum met with Dr. Craig Merrett, an assistant professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering. Merrett received his Bachelor of Engineering degree in aerospace engineering with high distinction from Carleton University and his Master of Science and Ph.D., both in aerospace engineering, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include aero-servo-viscoelasticity, viscoelasticity, unsteady aerodynamics, and applied mechanics. His teaching interests are in aircraft design, applied mechanics, viscoelasticity, and aeroelasticity. He has taught courses focused on sustainable energy, including co-teaching a senior year engineering design project of up to 65 students from multiple degree programs who sought to develop a sustainable net zero energy community using wastewater recovery, advanced insulation, solar panels, and wind harvesting.

The students from Dr. Merrett’s class are juniors studying Aircraft Design 1 and 2. Along with construction techniques, these students study crash data to see how the designs faired. To expand this program, Dr. Merrett partnered with museums for the classes to examine famous aircraft on display. Along with the design features, students study a famous aviator who was involved with the plane. Some examples include Jackie Cochran, Bessie Coleman and the Tuskegee Airmen. This approach allows the students to see the human side of the planes and what designs might benefit humanity in the future.

The Clarkson crew chose the Apollo 9 Command from the Museum’s collection. The Museum was able to send historic data, provide measurements, and show content from our International Air & Space Hall of Fame galas. The students sent back to the Museum documents describing the command module in layman’s terms, as well as technical diagrams they created. The astronaut they choose was Ellen Ochoa from San Diego. Though not part of the Apollo program, she helped study and design spacecraft.

Next year the Museum hopes to partner again with Clarkson and a new group to research a different plane. These partnerships help bring the Museum’s collection to life and provide detailed technical data about our artifacts.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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