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Towards more effective teaching strategies of iteration and systems management in spacecraft design


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We propose effective teaching strategies to help teams of students in spacecraft design projects in the first or second semester in the sophomore year in the aerospace engineering curriculum move from being "beginning designers" to being "informed designers." The focus here is on one dimension in the Matrix of Informed Design that is suggested by Crismond and Adams (in review), namely, Haphazard or Linear versus Managed and Iterative Designing. The objective is to instill in students systems management skills and greater appreciation for iteration in design by providing a unique context. This will be provided through the use of the development story of the Apollo Lunar Module as a historical case study in which students can observe design iterations in the larger system in which the spacecraft existed, with particular emphasis on cost and schedule. In this paper we describe the teaching strategy and the elements of the historical case as a unique way to contextualize design learning by understanding the kinds of iteration that occur and why they occur; implementing and assessing the strategy will be a focus of future work.
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