Aviation and Engineering Habits of Mind

I had my pilot check ride last week. I’d like to say I passed, which I did, but not 100%. I passed the oral part of the test but the flight test was delayed due to low ceilings over the Chicago area.

The check ride is conducted by a FAA affiliated employee. It can be a nerve-wracking experience and every pilot has a check ride story. The information the candidate to required to know and understand feels like memorizing a dictionary. In addition to knowing the electrical, fuel and oil systems of the plane, you must explain the plane’s performance, or how it will act. The performance of the plane changes due to several variables including temperature, altitude, weather, and wind direction.  In addition, there are the dreaded MSL (mean sea level) vs AGL (above ground level) questions and navigation chart questions. I felt lucky because I have been in flights in which weather, plane performance, monster poles, and mechanical surprises have surprised my husband and myself. It was a relief to pass it (mostly because ground school is finally over). Whew!

As an aside, there are an amazing amount of huge poles installed all over the area. The most massive are outside Madison.  Something to think about when you are flying under an overcast sky! I have scheduled my test flight and hope to pass it soon, weather permitting.

In the mean time, I’m back at school, loving every minute of it. I’ve collected some great references and hope to share useful ideas as the weeks progress.  I read an interesting article about Engineering Habits of Mind from Engineering Your World.org. In order to give them to 8th graders, I made some changes. The habits of mind were great food for thought for myself.

Engineering Habits of Mind

Systems Thinking: Looking at a system as a whole and in its parts

Systems Understanding and Quantification: Modeling a system using research and data analysis techniques

Creativity: Applying different design approaches and idea gathering techniques

Verification: Making sure your ideas meet design constraints, requirements and especially, customer needs

Communication: Documenting and communicating work through engineering notebooks and formal reports

Collaboration: Experiencing teamwork, having FUN!

Common Engineering Tools and Techniques: Using software and technology tools as well as science and math knowledge to solve design challenges

Cool. Happy 2012-2013!

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