Photo: Pratt  Whitney

Students from DTU and the US develop aerospace app

Tuesday 06 Mar 18
by Jesper Spangsmark
A team of students from DTU has developed an app for the aeronautical industry in collaboration with American students and businesses.

Together with three students from Purdue University, Indiana, USA, three BEng IT Electronics students at DTU have developed an IT solution for servicing engines from the Canadian aeronautical Pratt & Whitney. Their contribution is part of a new education and innovation partnership between DTU and Purdue University, where teams of engineering students from the two universities supply expert knowledge within their respective fields, delivering solutions to industry.

The six students—three from each side of the Atlantic—were given the task of structuring and streamlining the servicing of aircraft engines with a view to reducing maintenance costs, which in the case of aircraft engines far exceed their purchase price.

The students from Purdue contributed with expertise in aeronautical technology, examining which areas required new IT solutions—while the DTU team functioned as IT experts, designing, coding, and testing software.

“In the beginning, we worked together from our respective bases in Denmark and the USA, and as time went on and our team suggested solutions, we also discussed where and how they could be used—and whether they should be used for something other than that which the Canadians had initially intended. In this way we influenced each other’s work, and our different academic competences helped make the process both exciting and improved the final solution,” explains Kristoffer Hansen from the Danish team.

The team comprised Simon Bjerg, Kristoff Hansen, and Anders Jørgensen from DTU—and Nick Simone, Keith Burkhead and Trevor Rapp from Purdue University. The supervisors were ProfessorAnna Friesel, DTU Diplom and Associated Professor Sergey Dubikovsky, Purdue University.

"The possibility of physically seeing and experiencing the work with the engines gave us the final missing pieces."
Kristoffer Hansen, DTU student

Photo: Pratt  Whitney

The pieces fell into place in the USA
Although it was possible to define the solution’s form at the preliminary stage—namely an app—it was not until all six students met in Purdue’s laboratories and hangars in Indiana that things really fell into place.

“The possibility of physically seeing and experiencing the work with the engines gave us the final missing pieces in order to define the app content,” explains Kristoffer.

But it was not only in relation to the app content that the students learned a great deal in Indiana, USA. Kristoffer explains that in connection with the completion of the project, the two teams also discovered that they had a slightly different approach to engineering in general.

“The Americans adopted a slightly more standardized approach, while ours was more flexible and creative. The project taught us that a good engineering project contains both.”

Creativity and structure
Both standardization and creativity influenced the final solution. Standardization ensured that all requirements were met and that the specifications were followed to the letter, while creativity ensured that the app also contained solutions that no one had asked for—but needed.

What started out as a digital engine service checklist ended up as a database with new possibilities:

“We added an interactive database, which collects data from the app each time someone uses it. In this way, the app delivers data for analyses that not only can be used to improve the services, but also the engine itself,” explains Kristoffer.

The two teams even ended up suggesting that QR codes be placed on the engines. By means of augmented reality, parts of the engine could be highlighted inside the app, instructing technicians with graphic and filmic presentations.

As it turned out. there was not time to develop the latter, but as Kristoffer puts it, perhaps it will provide the basis for a new collaborative project between DTU and Purdue University.

“Then new BEng students can have a go at delivering high-tech solutions for industry within the framework of an international cooperation.”