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7139 Ga. Ave., If .W. 
Washington, D.C. 
September 2, 1942 

Mr. George Webster 
Pledge Chairman 
Maryland Beta Chapter 
Tau Beta Pi 

Dear Mr. Webster 

Attached to this letter you will find the thesis that you re- 
quested as part of the pledge duties for entrance into the Beta 
Chapter of Tau Beta Pi. The subject chosen was Aeronautical En- 
gineering at the University of Maryland . The purpose of the 
topic was to give a brief summary of the curriculum along with 
some criticisms and suggestions as to the subjects and the in- 

Since the views presented are my own and were gained from 
personal experience while taking the course I have included 
no bibliography because there were no references used. Infor- 
mation as to the exact subject matter taken in each of the 
subjects listed may be obtained from a University of Maryland 
catalogue. Space did not permit a discussion each of the subjects 
in the curriculum. 


Robert M. Rivello 




Prepared for 


Robert M. Rivello 

University of Maryland 
September 2, 1942 

The material contained in this thesis covers the curricu- 
lum taken by students in mechanical engineering aeronautical 
option at the University of Maryland. Much of the discussion 
concerns remarks, suggestions, and criticisms of the courses 
and instruction. This discussion puts forth the personal views 
of the author based on three and one half years at the universi- 
ty while taking the course and upon the comments which he ob- 
served from his fellow students concerning the course. A brief 
introduction is given as to the purpose of the course. 



"The primary purpose of the College of Engineering is to 
train young men to practice the profession of Engineering. It 
endeavors at the same time to equip them for their duties as 
citizens and for careers in public service and in industry." At 
the present time it is also doing all that it can to aid in the 
all out war effort. In this connection three terta^ a year are 
now being given so that the student may graduate in three and 
two thirds years instead of the usually four. During this e- 
raergency the student may also select technical rather than the 
hithertofore required non- technical electives so as to broaden 
engineering field of knowledge and better fit hira for this 
technical war. 

Probably the best way to evaluate any engineering course 



Freshman Year — Alike for all engineering courses. / II 

Survey and Composition I (Eng, ly) 3 3 

Beading and Speaking (Speech ly) » ~~ 1 1 

"College Algebra and Analytic Geometry (Math. 2 If, 22s) 4 4 

General Chemistry (Cliem. ly) 4 4 

Engineering Drawing (Dr. If) 2 — 

Descriptive Geometry (Dr. 2s) — 2 

Forge Practice (Shop Is) — 1 

Introduction to Engineering (Ertgr. If) 1 

Basic R. O. T. C. (M. I. ly) or Physical Education (Phys. Ed. 

ly) — ' ' 

tElective - 3 3 

19 19 

Fig. 1 

1 Dean S.S. Steinberg, in the Univ. of Md. Catalogue 1941-42 . 
Univ. of Md. Offical Publication, page 168 



is to examine its curriculum and facilities. Pig. 1 shows the 
subjects required of all freshmen in the University of Wiry land 
College of Engineering. No specialization as to the branch of 
engineering studied is made until the second year. To aid the 
student in the selection of his field one of the required fresh- 
man courses is Introduction to Engineering in which students 
attend lectures given by engineers wno are prominent, in their 
fields. This course is an excellent idea for orientation and 
gives the man entering engineering a brief background of its 
various branches so that he may make a wise selection in his 
sophomore year. The drawing and forge shop courses given in the 
first year are verj r good and very well handled. It is ray belief 
that the course in general chemistry should be changed to one 
more adaptable to engineering with more stress on metallurgy 
and other subjects more directly connected with engineering 
rather than some of the more abstract material taken in the 
second semester of chemistry. College Algebra and Analytical 
Geometry give the student a good background for his other math- 
ematical subjects to be taken in following years. In general, 
the math courses at the university are excellent and are well 
connected to practical problems. 

Fig. 2 illustrates the work studied by the student in 
his sophomore year. It is common to both mechanical engineering 
and aeronautical option students. It may be noted that Plane 
Surveying is included in this mechanical engineering curriculum. 
This is given to aid the student in gaining summer employment 


and also give him enough knowledge of the subject to deal with 
related problems that he may meet in mechanical engineering. The 
course is very good, but the work required ^reatOy outweighs the 
single credit given for the subject. The physics course is par- 



Sophomore Year 

Oral Technical English {Speech 5f) 2 

Calculus (Math. 23y ) 4 4 

General Physics (Phys, 2y) 5 5 

Advanced Engineering- Drawing (Dr. 3f ) 2 

Elements of Plane Surveying (Surv. Is) _ _ — 1 

Machine Shop Practice (Shop 3f) 2 — 

Statics and Dynamics (Mech. 2s) — 5 

Fundamentals of Economics (Econ. 57f) 3 — 

Basic R. 0. T. C. (M. I. 2y) or Physical Education (Phys. Ed. 

3y) .... 2 2 

Non-Engineering Elective , „ — 3 

20 20 

t Alternates. 

{Elective may bo R. 0. T. C. ; Thesis (E. E. 114y), with approval of head of depart- 
ment; a course in Fundamentals of Business Administration (O. and M, 11 of: Engineering 

Law and Specifications (Krhjr. lO'-s). or ntbrr appnjv<'il fnursi-s. 

Fig. 2 
ticularly fine and gives the student a good solid background 
for many of the subjects taken in the following years. The 
course given in Machine Shop Practice gives the undergraduate 
practical experience in methods of fabrication which will aid 
him later in design. The engineering shops and laboratories 
are very well equipped for instruction purposes. 

It is not until the last half of the. junior year that 
the student encounters any aeronautical subjects (see fig. 3). 
Juniors in aeronautical engineering are required to take Dif- 
ferintial Equations for Engineers which ties in calculus to 


to practical problems. The course in Materials of Engineering 
is naturally an important one in the engineering curriculum, 
but it is in my opinion very poorly handled at the university. 
This was primarily caused by the fact that the laboratory in- 
structor was not. familiar with the subject which he was teach- 
ing and not by the subject matter of the course. Thermodynamics 

Junior Year—Aeronautical Option 

Advanced Oral Technical English (Speech 6s) — 2 

Differential Equations for Engineers {Math, 114f) 3 

Strength of Materials (Mech. 103f) 5 _ 

Materials of Engineering (Mech. 103s) — 2 

Foundry Practice (Shop lOlf) 1 — 

Machine Shop Practice (Shop lU2s )...... — 1 

Principles of Electrical Engineering (E. E, 102y) „ 4 4 

Thermodynamics (M. E, 104y) , 2 3 

Aerodynamics and Hydrodynamics (M. E. 105s) . — 3 

*Non-Engineering Elective — , 3 3 

Technical Society — . _ 

18 18 

Pig. 3 
and Strength of Materials are two courses of a theoretical 
nature which have very practical applications. Speech is again 
required. It is ray belief that little is learned or gained 
from speech after the first two years and the time spent on 
it in the junior and senior years is, for the most part, wasted. 
Principles of Electrical Engineering is not as practical as it 
could be. I believe that the mechanical or aeronautical engi- 
neer would profit more from a course which would deal more with 
the uses and selection of electrical equipment than with a whole 
year of electrical theory. Since the course in Aero and Jfydro- 
dynamics is primarily intended for aeronautical students it is 
my opinion that more time should be spent on the aerodynamics 

of the airplane than on the flow of liquids. 

The senior year is probably the most practical of any of 
the years in engineering. The curriculum for this year is given 
in fig. 4. The student may chose his thesis subject from a 
large number suggested and sponsored by the faculty. Speech in 
the senior year has already been commented on. The courses in 
Airplane Structures and Mechanical Engineering Design are excel- 
ent and kee;^ the student abreast with the latest developments 
in these fields. Much of the work in these courses are taken 

Semen ter 

Senior Year — Aeronautical Option 1 11 

Advanced Oral Technical English (Speech 7y) 1 1 

Thesis <M. E. 108y) 1 2 

Prime Movers (M. E. 109y) 4 4 

Mechanical Engineering Design (M. E. llOy) 4 3 

Mechanical Laboratory (M. E. Illy) 2 2 

Airplane Structures (M. E. 112y) 3 3 

fElective 3 3 

Technical Society — — 

18 18 

Fig. 4 
is taken directly from technical reports. made recently. The 
senior year attempts to bridge the gap between college and 
industry • 

The war has caused a lot of changes in the course and 
instruction at the university and will undoubtably cause many 
more. Good instructors are hard to get and hard to retain due 
to the increased demand for engineers in industry. For the most 
part, Maryland is fortunate in having good professors and in- 


One criticism of a great many, of the courses is that 
the maximum use is not made of models and illustrative material. 
In this connection some of the of the instructors say that this 
would put the college on the same level as the trade school, and 
that the instruction should be more theoretical than illustra- 
tive. They have a point, but a happy medium must be met. The in- 
structor has in most cases worked with the machinery, mechanism, 
motor, or engine and has a working picture of them in his mind 
that the student lacks and must attempt to visualize. It would 
certainly be to the students advantage to have the mechanism, 
or a model of it before him in lectures so that he may tie in 
his theory to actual construction. There is room for much im- 
provement in this field in Maryland. 

It is also interesting to note that many other univer- 
sities are much more specialized in their aeronautical curriculum, 
and teach courses in propeller design, wind tunnel technique, 
and aircraft power plants. The reason for the lack of this 
specialization at Maryland is that by giving the student fun- 
damentals he can easily learn these special problems if the 
need be. One mistake that I believe that the mechanical engi- 
neering department has made is the dropping' of kinematics from 
its curriculum., An attempt has been made to give a brief intro- 
duction to this in Mechanical Engineering Design since it is 
needed in machine design but this introduction is to brief and 

is entirely inadequate . If given this subject would have to 
replace something else rather than just he added due to the 
fullness of the program at the present time. 

In conclusion, it is my opinion, that the course in 
aeronautical engineering at the University of Maryland is, as 
a whole, good. The shop, laboratory, and drawing room facili- 
ties are for the present enrollment adequate, but there is a 
lack of lecture room illustrative material. An increase in 
enrollment will make it necessary to expand existing facilities, 
I believe that the course would be improved by dropping speech 
in the junior and senior years and adding kinematics.