My aerospace introduction class (AME 105) was one of my favorite classes of freshman year and it did a great job of, literally, introducing me to the material and concepts of aerospace engineering. The lab for the class consisted of learning Solid Works for half of the semester and building a glider for the second half. When I walked into the lab for the first time to start building the glider, it was the first time I actually felt like an engineer. We had a blue print of a glider pinned to the table and a bunch of random pieces of balsa wood that had to some how come together to be a glider.
The lab we worked in to build our freshman glider will also be the lab we work for our senior projects, so eventually it will all come full circle! Our group spent many hours in lab cutting, sanding, and gluing pieces (and some time our fingers) together. Once the glider was done, we mono coated it and sent it out to fly!
Throughout the semester we had learned all of the flight mechanics and fluid mechanics needed to complete a glider report on the real data we got from glider test day. When the actual day of the glider test arrived, all of us were up and at the baseball field at 6am ready to start testing. While it’s not intended to be a competition, the competitive nature in all of us made it one, and our team took home first place for farthest flying glider! The test morning was filled with flight successes, glider crashes and best of all, Krispy Kreme donuts!
Regardless if you’re in aerospace engineering or not, your engineering introduction classes are a great way to learn about the major you’re interested in and USC does a great job of making it fun, like with gliders!