30 November 2012

A new, hands-on University of Queensland (UQ) aviation course is helping meet the demands of Queensland’s growing aerospace industry.

The Flight Mechanics and Avionics course equips engineering students with practical skills for entering the industry and high-tech sectors around Australia and abroad.

The major highlight of the 4th year engineering course is the ‘flight laboratory’, where students fly in groups of three or four in a light aircraft and capture data while it is flown through different manoeuvres by a former RAAF pilot.

Course Coordinator at UQ's School of Mechanical Mining and Engineering Professor Russell Boyce said the course gave students an insight into the way aircraft behaved in the sky, as well as the electronic systems that keep the plane flying.

“The course provides students with an appreciation of the fundamental behaviour of the plane as it interacts with the air, the aerodynamics of the aircraft's performance and also how to control the plane's stability,” Professor Boyce said.

“These skills are very important for the aerospace sector and boost the students’ confidence when they enter the workforce.”

Flight Lab Takes Off from The University of Queensland on Vimeo.

Other practical activities in the course include tutorials whereby students place weights at different locations on a small glider and observe the influence this has on its flight when launched.

The ‘flight laboratory', enabled by a Teaching and Learning Grant in 2011 and conducted in conjunction with Nova Aerospace, is a way of allowing the students to experience the same behaviour in the gliders, but in a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza aircraft.

“We know that it's important for experiential learning to take place to bed down the theory, so that the learning becomes deep learning,” Professor Boyce said.

“If you can feel it yourself, that's when it starts to makes sense.”

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student Mr Laurie Dart will be starting as a graduate engineer with Boeing Aerostructures Australia next year, following the completion of his studies at UQ.

He said the course had made him more determined to work in the aviation sector.

“It's the job I've wanted ever since I was a kid and I feel very lucky to have been given such a wonderful opportunity,” he said.

“I have no doubt that the opportunities I received at UQ have enabled me to pursue the career of my dreams.”

Media: Caroline Bird, UQ Communications, 07 3365 1931 or c.bird1@uq.edu.au