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SVSUSteve

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I think I asked this once before but the project was shelved before it went anywhere due to other things coming up on my end that took precedence. I am getting to a point where I have more free time to get back to working on a design but the same issue creeps up.

Those of you who have spoken with me privately, many of you at least, know that I happen to have a math learning disability. It does not impact my ability to do research since I can understand the concepts and rely on statistical analysis software to do the actual calculations. I cannot exactly do that with the structural analysis of an aircraft design and I am not willing to bet my life that I got it right (let alone the lives of anyone else) even if it is something that I have another person look over.

Would any of you be interested in collaborating on the design of a new light aircraft that is designed to be as safe as possible while still practical. The current plan is for a metal tube fuselage with wood wings and tail. This mix of materials is simply because I would rather build with wood. The basic layout is complete more the most part and many of the systems have been laid out to a decent degree (figuring that it helps to know weights and placement before working on structural detail design).

I could really benefit from having someone who is more experienced with structural analysis help me out. I can handle most of the other aspects-- although, as has happened before, I will be picking many of your brains for things related to engines, electrical, and aerodynamics-- but the structural detail work is something that I keep stumbling on.
 

Riggerrob

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Dear SVSU Steve,
Don’t be ashamed of the your mmath learning disability because I too suffer from a math learning disability.
I joke that if I was better at math, I would have become an engineer and made a career of designing airplanes instead of jumping out of them as a professional skydiver.
 

rv7charlie

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Hopefully someone qualified will step up here, but have you thought about trying the EAA chapters in your area? If you could find someone local to you it could really help to have them face to face when you're examining ideas. I have 'reasonable' math skills, but I still needed a couple of engineer friends looking over my choices when I was designing a motor mount for my alternative engine. One of them being an experienced welder helped a lot, too. ;-)

Charlie
 

Pops

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My father was extremely gifted in math and memory. Used it in a rather different direction. Gambling as in a card counter, the one's not allowed in the Vegas casinos. Was very, very good at it. (Long family story). The gift missed me but my youngest son was like my father and was a computer engineer until a head injury at 24 years old and he had to learn how to count again and lost all of his education. Now math and memory is back to us normal people.
 

Hot Wings

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I could really benefit from having someone who is more experienced with structural analysis help me out.
This does put you in a really tight corner. Finding Pro Bono engineering help, especially qualified help, is going to be tough.
2 options:
Find someone that shares your interest in the particular design to help out.
Ask at the local college/university if any of the engineering students are interested in filling our their resume or need some work study credit.

Being dyslexic I'm also somewhat math challenged too. I often joke that a negative one has always cost me one grade level in each math class I took. I build and double check Excel sheets for even basic stuff if I need to depend on the answer.

This guy makes the basics real easy to understand:
Jeff Hanson
The more you understand the better are the questions you need to ask.
 
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SVSUSteve

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Hopefully someone qualified will step up here, but have you thought about trying the EAA chapters in your area?
Despite being an EAA member myself, I have had zero luck with getting hold of anyone at the local chapters for any reason. The FBO manager I talked to at one of the local airports said that the two he is aware of within driving distance are not "active" to use his description.
 

SVSUSteve

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Ask at the local college/university if any of the engineering students are interested in filling our their resume or need some work study credit.
I mentioned that idea to one of the local engineering departments and they declined as they perceived the potential liability (with or without the waivers I suggested) as being too great.
 

BBerson

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The structure can largely be designed by looking at similar aircraft and some basic calculations followed by proof test loading as detailed in FAA Basic Glider Criteria.
Even the FAA will except proof test loading as an alternative to detailed analysis for Type certification.
 

blane.c

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capital district NY
I doubt you will have much success getting others to do math for you, there are likely members here who would be delighted to enlighten you on any errors in your calculations and equally happy to point you in the right direction.
 

Hot Wings

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declined as they perceived the potential liability (with or without the waivers I suggested) as being too great.
Then that engineering department won't be letting their students design ANY real world structure that has the potential to injure humans? :mad:
Sad world we live in today when everyone wants to be isolated from personal responsibility.....but that is getting into philosophy and pretty close to politics.

There are a lot of us here that are in kind of the same situation as you - Can't afford to hire an engineering firm, but we know that the work still needs to be done. We learn what we can, do the math as best as we can, then build and TEST.
The only trap here is that you need to be confident that the math done to figure out the proper loads is of the best quality possible. Fortunately for most standard designs these numbers/formula can often been found in the regulations.

Good to see you back on the forum!
Hang around here more and you can learn a lot. I've learned more here* than I did in my college engineering classes, but I had the basics well understood. The math needed isn't much more than simple algebra** unless you need to understand the derivation of the formulas. Then you need a bit of calculus***. Other than that, get a copy of Roark.


* That includes learning to think in terms of survivable space and crush structure as being an integral part of the design process. Wonder who influenced me to think that way...? ;)
** solving systems of equations with multiple variables, like for 3D vectors.
*** and a lot of this can be iterated in Excel.
 
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blane.c

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Of course if you are old and the loss of the airplane will be emotionally and financially crippling you may consider just designing for total destruction of the occupant area, less suffering that way.
 

Pops

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Then that engineering department won't be letting their students design ANY real world structure that has the potential to injure humans? :mad:
Sad world we live in today when everyone wants to be isolated from personal responsibility.....but that is getting into philosophy and pretty close to politics.

There are a lot of us here that are in kind of the same situation as you - Can't afford to hire an engineering firm, but we know that the work still needs to be done. We learn what we can, do the math as best as we can, then build and TEST.
The only trap here is that you need to be confident that the math done to figure out the proper loads is of the best quality possible. Fortunately for most standard designs these numbers/formula can often been found in the regulations.

Good to see you back on the forum!
Hang around here more and you can learn a lot. I've learned more here* than I did in my college engineering classes, but I had the basics well understood. The math needed isn't much more than simple algebra* unless you need to understand the derivation of the formulas. Then you need a bit of calculus***. Other than that, get a copy of Roark.


* That includes learning to think in terms of survivable space and crush structure as being an integral part of the design process. Wonder who influenced me to think that way...? ;)
** solving systems of equations with multiple variables, like for 3D vectors.
*** and a lot of this can be iterated in Excel.
See Steve, you are needed here. Glad you are back.
 

pictsidhe

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North Carolina
So, engineering students aren't allowed to work on a real world problem under the supervision of their professor? Doesn't say much about the college, does it?
I'm pondering offering my help. I am good at maths, but haven't finished designing my own first aircraft. I have no pieces of paper that say I have any clue what I am doing. So I'm a little reticent...

Welcome back!
 

BJC

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I mentioned that idea to one of the local engineering departments and they declined as they perceived the potential liability (with or without the waivers I suggested) as being too great.
Too bad. Times change, usually as a result of legal action.

As a student, I designed, for credit, a structural load test for a proposed STC.


BJC
 

Pops

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Talking to my 22 year old M.E. grandson, amazing what is not taught.
 

BJC

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Talking to my 22 year old M.E. grandson, amazing what is not taught.
Don’t know about today, but my formal education was heavy on the fundamentals, and without much in the way of how to apply it in practice. I.e., there was no course work on how to design an airplane.

FWIW, there are engineers in industry with the ability to apply the fundamentals that they (supposedly) learned in school to solve problems and create new things, and those that don’t have those skills. A diploma alone does not make an engineer.


BJC
 

kubark42

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Oct 19, 2020
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Speaking from the perspective of a mechanical engineer (but not the kind who has done much practical work with structures), one oft-overlooked part of any new design is testing, testing, testing. Good test engineers are worth just as much as good structural engineers.

For instance, my background is autonomous flying robotics (aka drones). I can-- and have-- written a lot of autopilot code but I don't really have the easy ability to test it. (It's hard to test flight code from a city center, or when the season is inclement, or when I don't have access to the right kind of aircraft.) Some of my happiest days were writing autopilot code that others were then able to go fly that very minute. I had a tight collaboration with my testers.

But a good tester isn't just a crash-test dummy. Test engineering is not done seat-of-the-pants any more than structural engineering is. It is, however, much more experience driven than theory driven. So it can-- and can only-- be learned outside of formal classroom environments.

The upshot is that if you can figure out how to offer excellent test skills to a designer, the designer might be able to offer you excellent design skills in return. If this sounds useful to you, my advice might be to develop and market the kind of test skills that we're looking for. Then its win-win for all involved.
 
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