MEng Aerospace Engineering with Industrial Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Aerospace Design

Course unit fact file
Unit code AERO10301
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates


Engineering design is the formal process by which often vague requirements and needs are turned into useful systems or artefacts.  Most people are familiar with the general concept of design as a creative process; however good engineers specifically understand how to create novel solutions within the constraints of physics, economics and the expectations of society.  This unit provides an introduction to design through a series of practical based activities.  The goal is to set students on a path towards becoming a competent engineering designer by the end of their degree programme.  Students should understand how design works as a process and be enthused as to the possibilities for innovation and creation of value enabled by good design.


 To provide an engaging introduction to the formal practice of Engineering Design for aerospace engineering students

To develop skills in basic structural analysis, workshop fabrication and test methods

To develop curiosity in how practical aerospace structures are designed and made and develop an intuitive feeling for good design


Introduction to the design process

  • The stages of design: Conceptual, Project and Detailed
  • Requirements and how they are turned into realities
  • Understanding what is ‘good’ design

Engineering materials

  • Understanding what material properties are and why they are important in design
  • Understanding how choice of materials affects manufacturing
  • Material failure modes – how do designs fail in practice

Detailed design

  • How to define something in sufficient detail that someone else could make it
  • Role of CAD and engineering drawing
  • Designing 3d structures made from 2d folded material

Assembly and manufacture

  • Different techniques for joining components together with adhesives
  • Impact of component tolerances on ease of assembly
  • Use of laser cutting for 2 parts with complex shapes

Engineering communication

  • How to produce effective short technical reports with professional presentation
  • How to communicate to a wide audience using a Youtube video format

Practical exercises

The unit comprises of a number of practical workshop exercises through which design principles can be understood in context. Design work is undertaken in teams, recognising that effective teamwork is an essential part of being a professional engineer. There are three main exercises: compressed air water rocket design, build and test; assembly and test of an existing wing design; and design and test of a wing structure to meet specific requirements. The rocket design activity is about creativity and application of basic physical principles to solve a challenging but engaging problem. It provides a compelling opportunity to test ideas out in the harsh glare of reality – some will fail spectacularly, but all will teach the value of good engineering design. Assembly and test of an existing design allows new designers to understand and learn from the wisdom and skills of experienced designers – a good design will always borrow from what has gone before. Finally, design of a wing structure to meet specific requirements illustrates how engineering science can be used to translate needs into a specific engineering solution, and the necessity for engineering test to prove that a design does indeed meet its requirements.

Real life examples

In parallel with the workshop activities, students will be given the opportunity to inspect example aircraft from the University of Manchester unmanned air vehicle (UAV) research group. The focus will be on understanding how designers have approached the structural design of a number of different aircraft types going from a simple hand launched electric powered glider, to a 50 kg gas turbine powered UAV.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 40%
Report 25%
Oral assessment/presentation 15%
Practical skills assessment 20%


Feedback methods

Written feedback via BB within 10 working days

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 2
Lectures 4
Project supervision 40
Tutorials 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 46

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
William Crowther Unit coordinator

Additional notes

eAssessment: CAD modelling Tutorial and exercises
Independent Study: Students undertake self study to enhance understanding of concepts
Lectures: Series of one-hour Lectures for 12 weeks.
Project Supervision: Students undertake a substantial Design Make and Test project working in teams of about 4 students
Supervised Time in Studio/Workshop: Hands on exercises on Sketching and Tolerancing (6 hours)and CAD (12 hours); Material seLecturestion exercise (3 hours)
Work Based Learning: Students make and test the flying object they have designed

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