Year 1

Your first year of aerospace engineering will cover core material - such as mathematics, mechanics, computing and electronics. In the first year the proportion of lectures and laboratory work is higher, but you will still undertake a variety of larger pieces of coursework designed to help you get to grips with how to apply the theoretical material in a design context.

All students have a personal tutor group. The tutor's role is to take care of pastoral support and provide a route for academic development outside of lectures. University is a significant shift from a school or work environment and it is important that you have the opportunity to get to know your fellow students and your personal tutor, so we have two design tasks that are set for tutor groups to help develop these social and academic links.

Round-the-pole aircraft

The challenge of creating a flying machine is at the heart of aerospace engineering. For this project, working in tutor groups, you will build and test a small electric aircraft designed for round-the-pole flying.

The aircraft is built of balsa and the objective can include:

  1. building the fastest aircraft;
  2. building the slowest aircraft;
  3. minimising the power consumed for flight.

The objective is to learn through experimentation and discussion with your tutor.

The key points are to learn how to work with your colleagues, and to understand improvements you might make to your design solution in the future.

This project takes place in the first few weeks of your first term.

Foam wing design

Complex aircraft cannot be designed using trial and error. Extension of the round-the-pole project takes the form of our foam wing task and again sees students work in tutor group teams to design a foam wing.

The challenge now is more complicated: we will equip you with the understanding and mathematical tools to estimate the aerodynamic and structural performance of your design, and ask you to design a wing to meet a set of performance requirements.

There is a great deal of flexibility in the shape you can choose; the wings are cut using a hot-wire foam. At the end of the project, your wings will be tested in our open jet wind tunnel and the final performance assessed as part of a competition. The emphasis is on learning and applying understanding to design, rather than competition.

This project takes place at the start of your second term.

My first year at Bristol has given me a great introduction to the world of Aerospace Engineering, covering a variety of modules which encompassed many different aspects.

Eleanor Jones (Aerospace Engineering)

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