Multidisciplinary design experience of a high altitude inflatable wing UAV for aerospace workforce development

Jamey D. Jacob, James E. Lumpp, Suzanne Weaver Smith, William T. Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

14 Scopus citations


NASA is addressing the anticipated shortage of aerospace engineers in part through workforce development projects of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. BIG BLUE is a workforce development project currently in its fourth year at the University of Kentucky (UK). Although UK does not have an aerospace engineering major, this multidisciplinary project has provided over 160 engineering students to date with opportunities to learn about and to prepare for aerospace engineering careers. BIG BLUE is a comprehensive aerospace project experience to design, build and conduct a complex, high-altitude experiment to verify the feasibility of inflatable-wing technology for Mars exploration. To date, three successful experiments have been completed, along with participation in a student unmanned aerial vehicle competition. In essence, students involved in BIG BLUE joined the aerospace workforce while participating in the project, which influenced their decision to choose and pursue an aerospace career. In this paper, the educational aspects of the BIG BLUE project are detailed. In addition to capstone design courses, students involved with BIG BLUE attended an aerospace systems engineering short course and learn-to-fly workshops. Opportunities were also available to visit and work with practicing aerospace engineers in industry and at NASA. Annual support and expenditures, student and faculty involvement in project management and aerospace workforce development results are included. With three successful flight experiments in three years, a review of BIG BLUE reveals the effort, cost and results of experiential aerospace workforce development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCollection of Technical Papers - 44th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2006
Event44th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting 2006 - Reno, NV, United States
Duration: Jan 9 2006Jan 12 2006

Publication series

NameCollection of Technical Papers - 44th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting


Conference44th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting 2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityReno, NV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering


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