Best HBA project to teach aero industry skills to HS students?

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TheMaj

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I am looking for the best amateur-built aircraft option that will provide high school students the opportunity to use aero industry manufacturing techniques. Because these are high school students with no experience, I need a project that small groups of students (groups of 2-4) can make a meaningful contributions to in the span of a semester class. The project also needs to come from a company that is very friendly and helpful. Here are some details with two specific questions below.

Goals:
1) Give students excitement about working in the aero industry.
2) Give them confidence that they have the ability to work in the aero industry.
3) Give them some skills and experiences to help them be employable in the aero industry.

Desired skills/experiences
(that I'd like my students to come away with):
1) AutoCAD experience drawing simple parts.
2) CNC experience cutting out parts (aluminum, carbon, plywood, ???) with plasma, route or laser CNCs)
3) 3-d printing experience fabricating misc. parts.
4) Experience on modern engines and components (glass cockpit components, Rotax 912, turboprop, jet, ???)
5) Experience with modern construction techniques (carbon and fiberglass composites, ???)

Project Limitations:
1) Students need take very small steps. On average, the kids can do in a week what it would take you 15 minutes.
2) Students need to see progress. Despite limitation 1, the project needs to have some momentum, so I'm automatically thinking a kit, but... ???
3) Needs to be "cool". The better this thing looks on a poster, the more enthusiasm it will gain.
4) Company (if a kit is involved) will need to field an above-average number of questions and assistance from students.

Questions:
1) What other skills/experiences should a high school graduate get to be better suited to enter the aero technical field or continuing with post secondary education (i.e. aero engineering).
2) In your opinion, what aircraft project will suit itself to this effort?
 

Dana

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To teach relevant skills, a sheet metal plane is probably best.

For a project that has a chance of continuing forward, a plane that the (a) faculty member is interested in flying.
 

pwood66889

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Going with what Dana said, I'm gonna proffer Van's RV-12. It is Sport Pilot legal and modern (Glass cockpit, etc.), meaning low qualification to be flown by faculty member.
Now is a better time to be looking at aero technical fields than recent past, but it may not last. IMHO, a mechanic with A&P ratings is about the best effort/reward proposition in that one can work for pay with less than (2 years time and $10,000 money).
 

narfi

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IMHO, a mechanic with A&P ratings is about the best effort/reward proposition in that one can work for pay with less than (2 years time and $10,000 money).
Or get paid as an assistant for 30 months and get your A&P........ (2years living expenses without income is a lot more than $10,000)
 

gtae07

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1) What other skills/experiences should a high school graduate get to be better suited to enter the aero technical field or continuing with post secondary education (i.e. aero engineering)
How to use a tape measure/ruler/scale (seriously!) in both US and metric units.
Basics of hardware (nuts and bolts)
Use of basic hand and power tools (saws, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc)
Basic shop safety
A little bit of troubleshooting/maintenance on something. Have them remove, rebuild, and reinstall a lawnmower carb or something.

Then, a bit of work on the airplane.

Beyond that, they'll learn the specific skills later. The point is just to give them a taste of "I can do this", not have them ready to walk on the job and be productive day one. CAD and such can tie into a computer class.

Those interested in engineering need someone to teach them calculus well before going to college. You probably won't use it much on the job, but it'll make getting through college easier.


2) In your opinion, what aircraft project will suit itself to this effort?
RV-12 is well done and has been used in several student projects in the past.
At one point Sonex used to have an educational build program too, but I don't know if it's still active.


Depending on the A&P school you might be able to work and take classes. Our local one only offers them on a full-time, Monday-to Friday, 8-to-5 basis, which shuts out 90% of potential students who are working to feed, shelter, and clothe themselves and possibly families; the guy sitting next to me at work did night classes part-time in Ohio.
 

pictsidhe

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If you want them to dip their toe into mainstream aircraft manufacture, I concur with sheet metal. I suspect that a Sonex is going to be cooler than an RV.
As this will take several years to finish, may I suggest that completed parts are displayed? On the walls, hung from the roof. Each part has a note saying who built it. This will give new students a big confidence boost to see parts that their predecessors made.
If you want fast and tangible results, an ultralight may be better. No, they aren't built like GA. But building an aircraft is still highly relevant. They can learn to set 10k rivets later.
 
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Victor Bravo

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The answer to TheMaj's question is the Zenith CH-750. Students can start by doing basic assembly of a highly pre-fabbed kit, and progress in stages all the way to designing and manufacturing the parts from raw materials. The cost is very reasonable, and there is an enormous mount of support from the factory AND a worldwide community of builders.

When the aircraft is uilt it can be used for (and is a good aircraft for) student flight training and other youth education activities. The operation, storage, and maintenance costs of this aircraft are very reasonable. It can be used to train students on (basic) airframe and powerplant mechanics. If for any reason the aircraft is prohibited from being flown (school bureaucracy, insurance, whatever) then the aircraft holds its value very well and can be sold to pay for the materials to build the next student group's aircraft.

The aircraft has a good safety record, and (most importantly) is easy and straightforward to perform safety inspections on. Any experienced light aircraft mechanic can perform a full safety inspection and provide an accurate, conservative report on how safe the structure is to fly.

Oh, like Lt. Columbo from the old TV show... I almost forgot to mention, the Zenith factory offers significant discounts and extra factory support for school projects.
 
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PagoBay

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Whole heartedly agree with Victor Bravo on the Zenith CH750. Great forum community. Great factory support. Large completed base. Match drilled for almost all parts. Many engine options ready with FWF.
 

TFF

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With some of the shop tools you want to use in house, I would build something like a Sonex or Zenith. The why is it can be built as plans and kit. The class should be able to work though a kit. The plans building could be more advanced using your own CNC equipment. In general, you will have to pick either a composite, sheet metal or, welded tube and wood. Some crossover within a design but usually just minor. If wanting to do all three, you will have to pick three different designs.
 

282ex

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IMO: take a close look at what the folks at TeenFlight do. They get sponsored, build an RV12, sell it, have money for the next build, next batch of students.

These guys are at all the PNW air shows (maybe more, I dont get out much)
http://teenflight.org/
 

Tiger Tim

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I vote CH-750 too. My first exposure to metal work was skinning a rudder for a 601 and the whole drilling/deburring/priming/riveting operation took a day or two. They’re just dead simple.

For the sake of motivation you can get the students pumped up on the STOL aspect of it and look at why it’s designed the way it is. Maybe get future classes involved in light mods for it (nothing too safety critical - fairings, vortex generators, propeller selection, etc.).
 

Toobuilder

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If the goal is to develop mainstream skills then you need a mainstream project. And things don't get any more mainstream than an RV. But not the 12. POP rivets and Rotax are not going to teach the kids anything. Go with a slow build RV-7A:. It's built like real airplane, flies like a real airplane, uses a real airplane engine and systems, and will be marketable to a wide range of buyers at the end. Want to teach "modern" systems? Then install the latest glass avionics and an EFI system from SDS.
 

rv6ejguy

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RVs are good if the budget is there. As Toobuilder points out, they are in high demand and fetch a good price. You may even be able to get all or almost all your money back at the end. Rinse and repeat 3 years later with the next group of kids.
 

choppergirl

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Flighttest Foamboard

Don't make the class build an airplane you alone get to fly. I want to hear how any of you intend to convince any high school to finance your pet project full size airplane. (This should be rich :) ) I'll pretend I'm the high school principal with a budget spread razor thin that has to be approved by a very critical and judgemental school board - ready, set go!*

~

You don't start a class building a Formula 1 racecar or the skills how to hone a race car cylinder or how to design in CAD a front racing suspension, before any of them have ever even built a bicycle from raw materials ... :-/

Instead, build several RC airplanes in teams, all of them get to fly, which can be crashed and repaired and fly again. On the football field. You will probably have to pay for a lot of the more expensive materials yourself (RC radios, for example, unless you buy only one to be used for all airplanes (why not)). Recycle all the motors, servos, etc the next year to new teams and new airplanes.

~

* At one time I worked for a month or two or three for a huge school supply company, entering orders into their computer system from hundreds of teachers ordering their yearly supply budget for the class they taught - pre-K up to high school. Teachers got from the company a big color paper catalog (I wanna say like an old school Sears Catalog and just as thick), and wrote on an order form they tore out of the back, what they wanted and how many, and whether we could substitute per item if it was out of stock. What they could order was things like crayons, markers, posters, wall sized maps, chairs, blackboards, slide projectors, furniture, whatever a classroom would need. We didn't sell lesson school books, just everything and anything else.

I would read this hand written order, punch in their data into a dumb terminal (25 other people were doing the same in the same room with me), look up the SKUs for each line item and see if it was even still sold or available, and convert the paper order into an electronic order that was sent some warehouse distribution center somewhere to be processed. I can tell you, I never saw a budget on one of those orders for the year per teacher, that would even approach what would be needed for raw materials for an airplane. Orders were always <$1500 for the year per teacher. If it was ever, ever over $1,500, which I never remember any being, it would have to have been a rare order of a bunch of furniture for a new classroom by the school itself.
 
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BJC

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I want to hear how any of you intend to convince any high school to finance your pet project full size airplane. (This should be rich :) ) I'll pretend I'm the high school principal with a budget spread razor thin that has to be approved by a very critical and judgemental school board - ready, set go!*
There are links in the replies, above, to the OP’s question to two successful, on-going programs. Neither is funded by tax payers (often referred to as “free” ). Both are possible because of donations and sponsorship of corporations and or individuals. You know, the evil rich.


BJC
 

Victor Bravo

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Hey Chops, nobody said that the principal was being asked to fund it, did they? They can get funding from individual donations, the parents, local businesses, or even have a fundraising event like a charity car wash or bake sale.
 
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