Ransometal - Introduction Contributed paper The origins of...

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Contributed paper The origins of aerospace engineering degree courses E.C.P. Ransom and A.W. Self The authors E.C.P. Ransom and A.W. Self are at Kingston University, London, UK Keywords Higher education, Aerospace engineering Abstract The development of degree courses speciŽcally designed for aerospace engineers is described in relation to the change in needs of the industry since the demonstration of powered ight. The impact of two world wars and political decisions on the way universities have been able to meet the demand for graduates is discussed. The effect of these changes is examined in relation to the type of education received by current graduates compared with early courses. Electronic access The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/0002-2667.htm Introduction The origins of the aerospace industry go back many centuries. Everyone is familiar with the story of Icarus who having designed a pair of wings, attempted to ¯ y. He was successful but ¯ ew too close to the sun, whereupon the adhesive used as wing fastening melted due to thermal radiation and his ¯ ight ended in disaster. At the time this would have been regarded as science ® ction, but clearly there was some awareness of aerodynamics (for wing design), adhesives and thermal radiation. In retrospect, it is apparent that before successful man carrying powered ¯ ight could be demonstrated, there had been a period of intense study including experimental and theoretical analysis. The Royal Aeronautical Society, formed in 1866, preceded the ® rst ¯ ight by some 37 years. As a learned society it encouraged the discovery and exchange of knowledge necessary for successful heavier than air ¯ ight. Orville and Wilbur Wright, contrary to popular understanding, were extremely talented research workers as well as competent designers. To improve their understanding of wing aerodynamics they built a wind tunnel, a replica of which is in the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden, they studied bird ¯ ight intensively in order to develop a successful aerodynamic control system, using wing warping, and they designed and built a reciprocating engine which had a power to weight ratio of 12 lb/HP (7.3 Kg/Kw). This was superior to anything then available. In a letter written 2 years before their ® rst demonstration of ¯ ight Wilbur wrote ª . . . It is possible to ¯ y without motors, but not without knowledge and skillº (Marvin and McFarland, 1953). It is clear that learning is an essential and integral constituent of a successful aerospace industry. Knowledge had been sought for centuries prior to the ® rst successful ¯ ight and the thirst for knowledge seems today to be unquenchable.
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Ransometal - Introduction Contributed paper The origins of...

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