When I first arrived at USC, every moment of my days were a whirlwind of activity for almost a week. Then classes started! USC stood out to me early on because I was learning real-world applicable knowledge from day one. My first engineering class, AME-150L, was taught by the department head of Aerospace Engineering, Prof. (and I would like to add the prefix Sir) Geoffrey Spedding, originally from Scotland. Professor Spedding is one of the most confident, challenging, yet caring professors that I have met to date at USC, and after one semester of study, converts his students from persons interested in aeronautics to educated students in the field. The class not only teaches a student theory, but also has two practical components-the graphics lab, and the glider lab. By far, I enjoyed the glider lab almost as much as learning the theory. In the picture above, you can see the structure of the “Bird of Time”, a competition class balsa glider, immediately after we finished constructing the wing. Although we had little idea of the time involved in building a 9 foot wingspan glider out of balsa wood our first semester of college, the entire experience developed our theoretical understanding of flight, as well as our practical understandings of the fundamentals of stability and control. One important lesson learned was that of craftsmanship. Such a large project compounds small errors, but thanks to generous amounts of super glue and some ingenuity, the Bird of Time was ready to fly by our deadline, and performed fantastically.
Happy Gliding, and Fight On!
Reminds of a film I once saw about Lockheed’s “skunk works”, where they try to be years ahead of everyone else in the field of flying (aeronautics and vacuum = rockets). When the interviewer asked the head engineers why these people worked there (often under great secrecy, so they couldn’t brag about it), his answer was: “Oh, they’re all aircraft nuts!”.