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"Intro to Aeronautics" Short Course Offered at NIA
By: Susana Acosta, National Institute of Aerospace

The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), in collaboration with Practical Aeronautics, is offering a four day continuing education course, "Intro to Aeronautics: A Practical Perspective," from March 18 to 21. This is the fourth consecutive year that this short course will be offered at NIA; and although it was originally designed specifically for NASA, anyone working directly or indirectly in the field of aviation may benefit from attending.

The short course is a collection of lectures and activities that vary in length and subject matter. Its goal is to provide a "big picture" view of aeronautics that is understandable to people with or without an intense technical background.

"Many people working in the aerospace industry — including researchers, engineers, and technicians — are experts in their specific fields but lack a foundation in aeronautics fundamentals," explained Craig Seymour, President of Practical Aeronautics and one of the short course’s instructors. "We will be describing the fundamentals via a physical rather than a mathematical approach in order to highlight design and operational challenges and reinforce the importance of successful systems integration."

In the past, the blend of people participating in this course has ranged from linguists to doctorate students to industry engineers, allowing diverse occupational and educational backgrounds to learn together. Since this course is taught by multiple people, the diversity spills into the instructors’ side as well. The unique "team" teaching approach includes educators with different areas of specialties to keep the momentum and level of classroom discussions interesting and knowledgeable. For example, a Ph.D. level instructor can provide lectures grounded in theory, while a pilot can describe the theory’s impact on aircraft flying qualities.

This course will benefit participants in more than one way. Typically, aeronautics short courses address very specific, highly focused topics.  However, this series gives a broad exposure to aeronautics and propulsion. Additionally, it provides students with the chance to get a jump start to a career by giving them the exposure to aeronautics fundamentals that employers often expect employees to obtain through experience.

Continuing education credits (3.2) are available and each student will receive a set of course notes and a copy of "Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators." Participants will also be able to visit the Virginia Air and Space Museum as a classroom.  Practical Aeronautics believes it’s important for the students to see and touch the design features discussed in class. 

For more information and to register visit

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