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How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Gijs » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:08 am

This week I officially became an aerospace engineer by graduating from university with a 9 (out of 10) for my thesis project! Here's a plan on how to achieve just that :-)

  • Design a display that can support haptic feedback on the side stick in communicating flight envelope boundaries to pilots. Previous research had found that pilots like haptic feedback for this, but did not always understand what the haptics were trying to tell them. A visual display was expected to improve system acceptance, as well as their performance.
  • Implement the system into an advanced research simulator with an actively controlled side stick (see pictures below). Note that I didn't use the motion system for my experiment (unfortunately).
  • Invite 16 Airbus pilots and let them fly your simulation. Just some numbers so you get a grasp of how extensive the experiment was:
    • They flew 338 approaches into three different airports.
    • Total distance flown: 5772 NM, exceeding the distance from Amsterdam to Singapore.
    • 30 hours, 23 minutes and 30 seconds of actual air time (excluding training etc.).
    • 79.6 GB of flight data collected (at 100 Hz).
    • 434 pages of questionnaires to record subjective data (pilot opinions).
  • Last but not least, use FlightGear in some form :-) In my case we used it to provide the visuals in our simulator. Most of the pilots were rather impressed by the looks of it as well as the smoothness and fast loading times. These guys are used to flying multimillion-dollar training sims, so that's a testimony to the hard work by many of you!
In the end my experiment did not show significant improvements in most of performance parameters with the new display, but there was a clear increase in pilot acceptance and understanding of the haptic system. Promising results for further research!

I'm thrilled that, almost exactly 12 years after my first steps into the FlightGear world, I have reached a (provisional) top of climb. Thank you all for taking part in that journey! Being part of the FlightGear community has definitely paved the way. Let's see what the future brings...

Cheers,
Gijs

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Image
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Thorsten » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:19 am

Congratulations!
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Icecode GL » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:32 am

Now begins an even more interesting journey (or that's what I hope it happens after graduating :) ). Congratulations!
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby legoboyvdlp » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:42 am

Awesome project - nice work and congratulations :)

Is that a 737 MAX cockpit?
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Parnikkapore » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:48 am

Aerospace and Mechanical/Civil engineering is one of my dream careers too! Don't forget to come back and post :smile:
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Gijs » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:00 am

Thanks guys! I'll definitely let you know whenever there's more cool stuff to show ;-)

Parnikkapore wrote in Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:48 am:Aerospace and Mechanical/Civil engineering is one of my dream careers too!

If you can, go for it!

legoboyvdlp wrote in Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:42 am:Is that a 737 MAX cockpit?

It's a generic cockpit with a mixture of parts. This being a research simulator means that we require maximum flexibility so we can simulate whatever is needed. In the setup shown here there is a side stick on the right and a yoke on the left. The pedestal is from an actual 777 (we don't have a corresponding Airbus pedestal) and the MCP resembles a 737. I performed a single-pilot manual-flying experiment so we only used the right seat and no autopilot. The displays can show whatever you want, in this case an augmented version of an A320 PFD, with the aircraft about to stall.

In fact, the simulator is so flexibel that you can swap out the controls for a helicopter setup, or even a car complete with steering wheel and pedals :-)
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Johan G » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:05 pm

Congratulations! :D

Was it an FBW FDM with or without envelope protection? And I guess the feedback was more that just a stick shaker or increased control forces.

It would be interesting to skim through that paper when it is ready (though parts of it would be above what I can understand).
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby bugman » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:17 pm

Congratulations from me as well. From the description of your thesis, it sounds like you would have had a lot of fun with it too,

Regards,
Edward
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Michat » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:29 pm

These are pretty good news from you./ Congratulations! :D Engineer de Roy.

29.92 for you.
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby wlbragg » Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:27 pm

What a great accomplishment, congrats!
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Gijs » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:18 pm

Johan G wrote in Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:05 pm:Was it an FBW FDM with or without envelope protection? And I guess the feedback was more that just a stick shaker or increased control forces.

We used an A320 model so yeah FBW. In my experiment all flights were in alternate law without reduced protections. If you're really interested in the haptic feedback side of things you can find already published papers on that matter here and here. My experiment basically used that system, with the addition of feedback on the roll axis.

It would be interesting to skim through that paper when it is ready (though parts of it would be above what I can understand).

The intention is indeed to publish the results, but that'll take a little while. I'll let you know when it's done.
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby www2 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:30 pm

Gefeliciteerd.
And remember me to buy a beer/soft drink at the next FS weekend for you.
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby xDraconian » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:44 pm

Great accomplishment Gijs. Congratulations!
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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby VicMar » Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:51 am

Congratulations on a job well done. Best wishes for the future too.

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Re: How to become an aerospace engineer

Postby Isaak » Sun Jun 02, 2019 10:50 am

Proficiat, Gijs! I heard from Durk that you'd made it, glad to see some action! I guess this means that you can finally attend FSweekend without feeling guilty because you should be studying for an exam? ;-) We'll drink one on that in November!
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