The University of Michigan Department of Aerospace Engineering is dedicated to its outreach initiatives. Every year UM Aero engages with students in Aerospace Day as well as several other outreach activities and events. If you are interested in discussing a partnership with the University of Michigan Department of Aerospace Engineering, please contact our Outreach Specialist, Kimberly Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
UM Aero has been cultivating a relationship with Davis Aerospace High School over the past year with the goal of increasing Davis graduates’ interest in attending a 4-year college after graduation. Department Chair, Dr. Tony Waas, and Outreach Specialist, Kimberly Johnson, are working closely with principal Neal Morrison, to achieve his primary objective of adding engineering to Davis Aerospace’s aviation focused curriculum. Davis’ top 10 students will get a chance to attend the AE285 undergrad seminar this fall and winter in a continued partnership with UM Aero. This seminar exposes juniors and seniors to a diverse set of career options available to them if they were to pursue engineering degrees. Future plans are for UM grad students and postdocs to teach ENG100, UM’s intro to engineering course, onsite at Davis Aero to provide continuing exposure to engineering.
Professor Girard hopes to teach the next generation of engineers (and their parents) about the very real science that goes into ensuring that unmanned vehicles are flown safely and efficiently. As Co-Director of UM’s Vehicle Optimization, Dynamics, Control and Autonomy Laboratory, she hopes to “research and develop enabling technologies for controlling advanced and increasingly autonomous vehicles operating in space, air, ground and marine domains” using control theory. But on certain days, she serves as Madam Hooch, the fictional Quidditch coach and referee.
The Quidditch game that Professor Girard has recreated with undergraduate lab assistants Sabrina Olson and Ana Timoficiuc, Aerospace Engineering Professor Ilya Kolmanovsky, graduate students, and the FXB technical staff is close to the sport described in the Harry Potter novels. On each side of the pitch, there are three hoops. The operator of the drone acts as the Keeper, maneuvering their drone like it’s a Quaffle; if the drone flies through a hoop, ten points go to that player’s team. In the high school version of the event, contact with the “flying snitch” quadcopter results in an automatic win. The players are even sorted into Hogwarts Houses, receiving red, yellow, green, purple or blue laser-cut tokens that denote the house and a historical anecdote about the University of Michigan.
After winning their regional qualifier, Travis Beauchamp, coach of Gladstone FIRST LEGO League Robotics Team reached out to the UM’s Department of Aerospace Engineering to try and get some additional advice on improvements for their solar oven.
Since this year’s competition topic was space, the team contacted Aerospace Prof. Jamie Cutler, CubeSat pioneer and space systems expert.
After listening to the Galaxy Bots’ description of their problem and their solution, Prof. Cutler congratulated the team on their work and he provided improvements and suggestions to the team’s design: insulating the corners of their oven, adding lenses to the front to better focus the sunlight entering the box, and changing the material to something strong and lighter. Before the state competition, the team was able to implement the insulation and lenses Prof. Cutler recommended.
Every semester, the Department of Aerospace Engineering hosts Aerospace Day. Aerospace Day, the Department’s biggest outreach event. Student project teams will be showcasing their projects and leading interactive activities with young students, and the Engineering 100 blimp competition and Aero 205 hovercraft competition will be held in the atrium. This is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the Aerospace Department and the opportunities it offers, and to excite visiting students who are interested in aerospace engineering!
Dates change from year to year so please check the Aerospace Calendar for dates and times.