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Old 05-18-2023, 08:52 AM
David Paule David Paule is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 5,820
Default End of First Year

We didnít make nearly as much progress as I had expected. We have the rudder, anti-servo tabs and vertical stabilizer done, and are close to finishing the stabilator but have run out of time. Some of the wing parts are complete, too, like the main spars.

Here is what I think contributed to the low progress.

1. We have limited class hours, with six classes 55 minutes long and two 80 minute long ones per week, spread out over a morning and an afternoon class. Out of those we need to get the tools and parts out, set them up, and later put them back. We canít leave things set up for the next work session.

2. Of those eight classes, only five have mentors available, and then only one mentor per class. We have mentors for two morning classes a week and three of the afternoon classes. Thanks, Ron and Norm! Early on, while the students were still building skills and learning how to build an airplane, we told the students that they canít work on the plane without a mentor. They just werenít ready yet. But more recently, with the second semester winding down, some of the teams are entirely capable of working autonomously, and this did help.

3. The workspace is marginal. Weíre using a computer lab area. It has awkward spacing, poor lighting, and weíve had a work table limitation from the very beginning. Parts and tool storage are not readily at hand. There is no apparent way to remove the fuselage from the workspace except for removing a window and using a crane or work lift to take it down from the second-story workspace. Hate to admit it, but this is the current plan.

4. The class competes with a robotics lab, which also is a hands-on class, but which offers design opportunity to their students. To some extent this draws interest away and limits the pool of students who may be interested. There is a certain amount of tool sharing between the classes, with the robotics students telling us that we have the best tools. But they have the general-purpose tools that we donít. Sometimes tools get mislaid.

5. Surprisingly for me, many of the students in the airplane class needed very basic instruction. Things like which way to turn a screw or how to measure something were wholly new to them. Naturally, this tended to slow the initial effort of coming up to speed.

6. We had enough practice kits, thanks to Ernie, but not really enough mentors to teach them. This is the phase that really needs hands-on instruction and plenty of similar tools. Partly for this and partly because ďabout rightĒ wasnít good enough, a number of students dropped out of the game. They had an alternate path: electric drone model airplanes and flight simulators, all offering the immediate satisfaction that the actual airplane didnít. Of course even us experienced builders sometimes need that sense of immediate results; I bake bread and cookies, for example, and I know others who do similar things. Canít blame the teenage students, but maybe we could have taught them differently. The mentors generally had RV experience but not teaching experience.

7. The high school had somewhat minimal support, and the poor work bench issue is an example - we had to supply our own and did, thanks to Gregg. Worse, there are no pre-established curriculums; what we came up with were put together as we get started. I did try to provide a sense of how the work would flow, but it wasnít a curriculum. I expect that some of the students joined the class with expectations which were considerably more ambitious than the actual project entails.

Still, after all that, we have three of the afternoon students that Iíd trust to build an airplane by themselves now, and two of these became good team leaders. However, one of the initial team leaders never quite got the hang of leading and eventually became one of the part-timers. One of the better team leaders is a junior with another school year to go, that one will take on mentor responsibilities next year as well as being a team leader. Unfortunately for use, the other good one is graduating this month. Frankly, I hate to see him go. I never really got to know the other fourteen or so afternoon students nominally in the class that never contributed to the project.

Two of the better qualified students are taking the class next year too. One of them, a current team leader, will become a mentor. The others are graduating this month.

If any of you have recommendations, please let us know. Thanks!

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Old 05-19-2023, 01:57 AM
rgmwa rgmwa is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 1,756

I was involved in an RV-12 high school build in 21/22 as one of the mentors. In our case the project was split between several high schools across Australia to try to speed up the work and allow as many students as possible to participate.

Our school did the fuselage, and so had the bulk of the work. We had about a dozen mentors in total at the school, usually rostered 2 to 4 per work session. Not all mentors were available every week due to work and other commitments, and let me say at the outset that many others contributed far more to the project than I did.

There were typically two one-hour sessions per week with from 3-4 to perhaps up to 12-15 or so students in each session. As our project started in one year and finished in the next, we also had two lots of new students who had to learn the basic skills. We experienced many of the same issues that you describe.

1. Limited class hours and needing to set up and clean up reduced the time available to do productive work. All tools and parts had to be cleared away at the end of each session. Also, the students were not allowed to do some jobs such as priming and fiberglassing due the chemicals involved. Finding parts in storage also took quite a bit of time.

2. We had enough mentors for each session but training the students in the basics took time. Also since we were only working on the fuselage, as time went on there were fewer tasks that could be done simultaneously, so that plus loss of interest gradually whittled down the number of students who regularly participated. Only a handful were enthusiastic enough to see the project through to the end. Of those, only one was outstandingly keen and motivated to get it finished.

3. We were fortunate as the project was stored in a purpose built shed that adjoined one of the technical trades classrooms, so we had good, although not large facilities.

4. In the second year the class was split between the build group and a drone/aviation related teaching group, and that seemed to interest many of the students more than the slow process of building.

5. I was also surprised at the lack of basic manual skills and coordination that some students seemed to have. These were typically 15-16 year-olds. Just using a hacksaw to separate a couple of parts seemed to be a major challenge for some.

6. Our students didn't have practice kits, so teaching the basics of deburring, drilling, measuring, riveting, checking plans and the importance of accuracy was a challenge. We had a couple of girls in the first year, and they were better than the boys. They were careful and thorough and had good skills, whereas watching some of the boys working on parts was very stressful.

7. The school staff was very supportive of the project - for example they had a large lockable shed built to house the project and store the parts. They also sourced tools and equipment, although a number of mentors also contributed or loaned various items.

The project was funded by the SAAA (Sport Aircraft Association of Australia), and on completion the various components were shipped to their headquarters for final assembly. It was a nice project to be involved with but it takes a lot of organising and the mentors have to be pretty dedicated and patient. I know that quite a few RV-12's have been completed in the US as high school projects, but it's interesting to hear that your experience to date seems to have a lot in common with what we, or at least I found. Unfortunately I don't have any good recommendations for how to improve your project, but maybe others do.
RV-12LR 912ULS 120346

Last edited by rgmwa : 05-19-2023 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 08-31-2023, 05:44 PM
David Paule David Paule is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 5,820

The new school year has started and we have 24 students. Last year there was a morning and an afternoon class, but this year there's only a late morning class. Unfortunately the changed class hours preclude every mentor except me, and make it quite difficult for me to show up.

The good news is that two of the better students from last year were Juniors then and are taking the class again this year. I assigned them to be mentors, knowing that they are capable. So far they are doing a superb job. So is the teacher, who was as new to this as the students were last year. Now he's entirely competent as a mentor.

Last year, we set up teams for each plans section, and that team was responsible for all the processes for those parts. One of the student mentors is concerned that this is slow and only involves a few students. His suggestion is to have everyone deburr all the parts first, and then the construction will be faster. We'll give this a try and see how it works out.

A number of our tools have disappeared and we're reconstituting that stock. We also lost our workbench and are making a new one per my plans in another section.

Right now the students are learning the practice kits. They haven't started work on the plane yet.

Last year's morning class worked on the wing and I spent some time assessing their progress. There were a few rivets that needed to be redone and others that needed more squeezing. I took these parts home to do all that. Wasn't a big deal.

I'll post more as we make progress.

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Old 09-26-2023, 04:22 PM
David Paule David Paule is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 5,820
Default Laser Parts Update for Our Kit

There are four part numbers affected by the laser parts issue on our kit. Only one of the them has been installed to date, but another one or two are coming up shortly. We are ordering replacement parts for all of them. The installed parts, the control horns on the Anti-Servo tab, should be easy enough to replace.

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Old 10-08-2023, 08:26 PM
David Paule David Paule is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 5,820

We got lucky. Two of the parts still have their tags and the manufacturing dates show that they are okay. The parts that are installed are also okay, per inspection.

The remaining part is clearly affected by the laser issue and we have a new one on order. As it happened, that's the next to be installed.

The new school year included two students from last year. They are competent and became mentors. I'm the only adult mentor right now, and I'm only there two days a week.

One of the new students quietly went to work on her practice kit and finished it. She was the first to complete, and was so low-key about it that I didn't even realize that she was done. She'd never asked for help. She had done a very good job on it, too. The aft bulkhead in the tailcone is a relatively complicated assembly, so I asked her if she'd take the lead on that. She chose one student to help; he also had done a good job. They are building that.

There was another student who unfortunately ruined his second try at a practice kit. He's now building us a second work table and doing a decent job with that.

One team is starting to prep last year's stabilator frame for skinning.

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Old 10-16-2023, 04:11 PM
David Paule David Paule is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 5,820

The teacher seems to have ordered all four, or perhaps shipping all four parts is standard for Van's now. Anyway, they came in. I was a bit surprised since I expected an indefinite delay.

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