SALINA — The aviation program at Kansas State University Salina is taking another step in education innovation with a new collaboration to develop curriculum for a jet engine simulator.
K-State Salina has agreed to work with Price Induction to create a robust curriculum using the French company's new virtual engine test bench that simulates the DGEN 380 lightweight gas turbine engine. Price Induction has given the aviation department full use of the test bench for one year to generate an education model that could be used in other academic settings. K-State Salina also will evaluate the suitability of using this equipment on a longer-term basis in its aviation curriculum.
Though the virtual engine test bench will mainly be used by K-State Salina's aviation maintenance professors and students, program lead Stephen Ley intends to integrate the developed curriculum into the aviation technology, professional pilot and engineering technology programs.
Ley says the test bench can simulate engine operation on the ground and in flight by using engine indications commonly found on both test cell facilities and inside aircraft instrument panels. It also can demonstrate test cell operations, gas path performance, fault analysis, system operation construction and design, thermodynamics and engine control, making it useful in a variety of degree programs.
"During this upcoming year, I want to go beyond the eye candy phase with the device and immerse all of our aviation students into a deeper understanding of gas turbine technology," Ley said. "This experience can be helpful in building stronger resumes for our students, and I think it will be attractive to employers because they will recognize our aviation program as leading edge education."
Besides introducing the test bench into classes in various individual programs, Ley also sees aviation maintenance and professional pilot students working together in classes. He says the device can create scenarios where pilots and maintainers must communicate and understand each other's point of view to work on problems that are identified by the flight crews and resolved through troubleshooting by the maintenance crews.
Ley likes the idea of using the virtual engine test bench in curriculum because he says a simulator in an academic setting can offer greater advantages over the real thing. Risks and costs associated with live test cell operations are eliminated while training availability is increased.
"With an engine simulator, it's not weather dependent, it's not noisy, you can't break it and you can maximize the educational experience by changing engine performance not only with RPM, but also by varying altitude, aircraft speed and outside temperature," Ley said.
As Price Induction sells the virtual engine test bench in the open market worldwide, the goal is to work with K-State Salina's developed curriculum and license it as part of the package, which lets educational institutions and businesses experience all of the training facets that are possible with the device.