ASU revamped two core aerospace engineering courses to emphasize the discovery of critical concepts through real-world problems. They also provided widespread access to MATLAB and Simulink for students and faculty by implementing a Campus-Wide License.
In the course Aerodynamics, students use MATLAB to investigate the effects of airfoil shape and operating conditions. Undergraduates use a MATLAB based GUI, developed by graduate student Manoj Mahendran, that is integrated with commercially available computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software.
After specifying various airfoil geometries and conditions, students run the CFD computations and analyze results with MATLAB.
“Students are introduced to MATLAB as freshmen, so they are familiar with the environment and can easily perform this kind of sophisticated analysis,” says Dr. Wells.
In Aircraft Dynamics and Control, students use MATLAB and Simulink to investigate the effect of various aircraft configurations on flight dynamics and stability. Using a SolidWorks® aircraft assembly, students specify parameters such as tail size and wing span. Then, they import the assembly into MATLAB and create an input file for the USAF Stability and Control Digital DATCOM program to estimate the aerodynamic stability and control characteristics of the aircraft.
These aerodynamic characteristics are imported into MATLAB using Aerospace Toolbox and implemented in a Simulink model, which integrates with a FlightGear flight simulator using Aerospace Blockset™ FlightGear interface blocks. The students can then simulate their aircraft model from a MATLAB GUI, developed by Dr. Shankar and graduate student Evan Schentrup.
Because the Simulink model is integrated with the FlightGear simulator, students can visualize the aircraft flying while the simulation runs and immediately see the effects of different configurations and control strategies.
“MATLAB was chosen because it not only provides a simple framework to integrate various third-party applications such as DATCOM and FlightGear but also allows users to execute them in a familiar environment,” says Dr. Shankar.
MathWorks tools are incorporated in several other courses, including Control System Design, in which students use Control System Toolbox™ to perform root locus analysis, and Sensors and Controls, in which honors students model a physical system with Simscape Multibody™ and develop a controller for it with Simulink.