The Aircraft Engineering MSc Course Team, Cranfield University

THE AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING MSc is a unique masters course which provides accelerated development for employees in the aerospace industry. The course was developed in collaboration with the industry and is helping it meet its objective of developing multi-skilled engineers with broader skills to meet their current and future business requirements.

The initial idea for the course, which was launched in 1995, came as a proposal from a senior BAE Systems representative who wanted to offer post-graduate education to his staff but was not able to release them for a whole year of full-time study, as would normally be the case.

The Aircraft Engineering MSc was developed to meet this need, allowing delegates to study part-time while remaining in full-time employment. Delegates spend just four weeks a year at Cranfield over the three years of the course, and undertake the remainder of their studies flexibly in their own time. All delegates undertake five mandatory taught modules covering the main concepts of aircraft engineering and then choose optional modules to allow specialisation in aircraft design, structures, systems or performance.

The delegates participate in a major group design project to develop flying hardware and undertake an individual project closely aligned to the interests of their sponsoring company and the work they do there. The group design project is the largest element of the course, in which delegates work as a team to develop a novel aircraft concept or system. The projects have a substantial budget provided jointly by the university and the sponsoring companies, and result in the development of real aircraft.

Past projects have included design and manufacture of the UAV ‘Eclipse’ and the blended wing body flying demonstrator Kestrel. Over the past 13 years the Aircraft Engineering MSc at Cranfield has educated 87 aerospace employees to MSc and PGCert level. Many graduates have used skills developed during the course to further their careers in their sponsoring companies.

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