Publications and Presentations

Ropp, T.D. (2023). Digital Twins for applied teaching and learning in Aeronautical Engineering Technology Curriculum. White Paper Report, Aerospace and MRO Technology Innovation (AMT-I) Center’s Hangar of the Future website. May 11, 2023. Purdue University, School of Aviation and Transportation Technology. West Lafayette, IN

Ropp, T.D. & Cronin, G. (2023). The case for data science, automation, AI and programming integration into an Aeronautical Engineering Technology Curriculum. White Paper Report, Aerospace and MRO Technology Innovation (AMT-I) Center’s Hangar of the Future website. April 4, 2023. Purdue University, School of Aviation and Transportation Technology. West Lafayette, IN

Yother, T., Dubikovsky, S., Davis, J.M., Hagovsky, T.D., Ropp, T.D., Sterkenburg, R., Thom, J.M., & Wang, P-H. (2022). Identification of core competencies for Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering Technology. Journal of Engineering Technology, Vol. 39, Iss.1. Spring 2022: 42-55.

Borgen, K.B.G, Ropp, T.D. & Weldon, W.T.G (2021). Assessment of Augmented Reality Technology’s Impact on Speed of Learning and Task Performance in Aeronautical Engineering Technology Education. The International Journal of Aerospace Psychology, 31:3, 219-229, 19 February, 2021.  DO... Paper published with graduate students.

Ropp, T.D. & Belt, S.M.F., (2020). Resilience as a competency for aviation and aerospace professionals: A review of the literature. American Society for Engineering Education. 2020 Annual conference – Technical Educational Research Division. June 24, 2020 Technical Session. Proceedings.

Ropp, T.D., Pirateque, J.E., Aurenas, J.M., Minarik, K & Lopp, D. (2020). Hangar of the Future 2030: Challenges for MRO, Aerospace and Aviation Education. Presentation on international survey results of workforce competency needs in MRO and Aerospace, 2020. Aviation Week-MRO Latin America International conference, Hilton Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia. Jan. 22-23, 2020. 



Incorporating 3D printing as an introduction to digital manufacturing in an aeronautical engineering technology curriculum.  


Fluency in digital manufacturing practices like ‘additive’ 3D printing is key for engineering and technology graduates entering the next generation aerospace workforce.  Research faculty and students at Purdue University’s Hangar of the Future Research Laboratory teamed with the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology’s Aeronautical Engineering Technology Powerplant Lab to design, 3D print, install and operationally test the department’s first 3D printed prototype part on a turbine engine.  The component was a bellmouth inlet made from polylactic acid rigid plastic prototype material and was evaluated for fit and structural integrity at low power settings.  It was successfully tested on the department’s outdoor engine test cell and is one of a series of advanced aerospace manufacturing design projects being integrated into AET research and curriculum laboratories at Purdue.

ATEC Journal - Spring 2015.


Hybrid Adaptive Air Vehicle Technical Work Instructions, June 2013


Technical work instructions used by engineering technicians in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) processes remain largely paper based in the industry.  Technicians often encounter situations requiring additional support material, technical advice, or amplifying visual information requiring them to leave the work area to conduct additional technical data searches or seek technical support.  A paper-based/electronic “hybrid” work instruction with network enabled data access via portable personal computing devices could offer the MRO industry one solution to modernizing current paper-only work instructions.  As a work in progress, this project demonstrates “digital” data access and display capabilities for paper based instructions, using optical targets embedded within paper based procedural instructions. These can be scanned using lightweight handheld PCD platforms (smartphone and i-Pad) utilizing Quick Read 2D Barcode and Augmented Reality visualization technologies. With these capabilities the maintenance technician can be delivered high end graphics, native CAD file parts information, animations and other technical data directly to the point of maintenance.  This type of adaptable work instruction preserves the human operator’s choice in level of detail required.  The goal is to improve maintenance task efficiency and accuracy while reducing time wasted searching for additional data or obtaining technical assistance.

Full paper:  /sites/default/files/files/HOF-HybridAdaptvWrkInstJun2013.pdf


Examining the Use of Model-Based Work Instructions in the Aviation Maintenance Environment, June 2013 


A fundamental tenet of product lifecycle management (PLM) environments is the use of high-fidelity, 3D product models. The capability to create models with high degrees of fidelity to the physical world has driven companies to extract as much benefit and use from these digital assets as possible throughout the design, production, and support stages of the lifecycle. This is particularly apparent in the aviation industry where aircraft lifecycles routinely reach 80 years or longer. As the aviation industry migrates to the use of 3D model-based communications mechanisms in lieu of 2D drawings, multiple factors will impact the use of digital model-based work instructions, including the device, the form of the product model data, and levels of detail in geometry and interactivity. This paper will present a series of short studies conducted over the last three years using novice university students and expert university staff aircraft mechanics to evaluate the use of model-based work instructions in a general aviation maintenance environment. The results indicate that varying levels of detail and levels of interactivity have an effect on number of errors, time on task, and mental workload.

Full Paper: /sites/default/files/files/HOF-ModelBasedWorkInstr_%20PLM2013(1).pdf


Incorporating Advanced Aircraft Technologies into an Aeronautical Engineering Technology Curriculum, Fall 2012


Researchers in the Aeronautical Engineering Technology program at Purdue University are exploring innovative ways to introduce and integrate aircraft maintenance data from their advanced training fleet of networked aircraft into an undergraduate Aviation curriculum. This report describes a work in progress toward that goal. This initiative will better prepare students for an industry where synthetic process visualization, drag and drop planning screens and ‘‘smart’’ personal computing device applications play a significant role in problem solving and daily aircraft operations. The goal is to equip students at all levels of the curriculum with awareness and modern
methods of process visualization, troubleshooting and research using modern, networked air vehicles.

Full Paper: /sites/default/files/files/HOF-IncorpAdvAircrftTechCurric2012.pdf

Research Team Presentations and Research Demonstrations:

Chia, W., Appold, E., Selvake, A., Ropp, T.D., & Leasure, M. (2014). Micro-Maintenance Strategies for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Purdue University Research Roundtable Poster Session.  Purdue Memorial Union Ballroom.  Nov. 11, 2014.

Anne, A., Garcia, E., Deng, K., Morrissette, J. & Ropp, T.D. (2014). Using Augmented reality in advanced aerospace manufacturing and maintenance. Purdue University Research Roundtable Poster Session.  Purdue Memorial Union Ballroom.  Nov. 11, 2014.

Anne, A., Ropp, T.D., & Davis, J.M., (2014). Applying 3D printing in aerospace advanced manufacturing and maintenance practices. Purdue University Undergraduate Poster Session and Research Open House.  Knoy Hall of Technology, Purdue University. Sept. 2014.

Anne, A., Ropp, T.D., & Davis, J.M. (2014). Using Augmented Reality technology for jet engine assembly and maintenance instructions. Purdue University Undergraduate Poster Session and Research Open House.  Knoy Hall of Technology, Purdue University. Sept. 2014.    

Incorporating Pervasive Computing Concepts into an Aircraft Maintenance Job Task Card System, 2011


In response to increased capacity and demand requirements of global air transportation predicted by 2025, the current U.S. air transportation system is being modernized by the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). This overhaul and modernization effort links aircraft, air traffic controllers and airports through advanced satellite assisted computer networks and technologies. Modern aircraft themselves are being manufactured with these technologies built in, including computer networked systems and self-diagnostic capabilities to facilitate their own maintenance. These new capabilities place tremendous pressure on maintenance organizations to improve their process efficiencies, technical competence and capability, and overall speed in order to match those of the “smart” aircraft on which they will work. Traditional computerized networks and information management systems used by modern aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operations are believed to be insufficient for helping maintenance engineering technicians reliably connect with these advanced aircraft systems and obtain the highly technical data supporting them. But industry changes slowly and has many generations of workers with varying technology comfort levels and expertise. Students - the emerging leaders who will face these challenges - must be prepared to face and solve these technology integration problems. Students at Purdue University from aeronautical engineering technology, computer and information technology, computer graphics technology and industrial technology curriculums are practicing their skills at innovating upon existing technology and networked systems, integrating their “smart” tooling and network designs into an existing aircraft maintenance and engineering technology curriculum laboratory, while pursuing design results that can transfer to industry. Through hands on research and action learning experiences geared toward creating a user friendly paperless workspace, learners within the aeronautical engineering technology curriculum are teaming up with computer information and computer graphics student teams and faculty to develop and test enhanced computing tools for modernizing and controlling processes for the aircraft maintenance industry. This report covers research and development of one such project in progress by a cross-disciplinary team of faculty and student researchers, who are developing a network-enabled, user-friendly electronic job task card management system for aircraft maintenance technicians. They are using the aviation school's large Boeing 727 laboratory aircraft. It describes to date development and testing of a pervasive, contextually-based data delivery approach for aircraft technicians that is expected to be faster and more capable than traditional electronic data file access. It includes development of electronic aircraft job task cards linked to a dedicated server, use of tablet PCs with touch screen technology for graphics enhanced job task instructions, including development of lightweight 3D graphics and other graphics-based process visualization capabilities delivered to the point of maintenance. Project goals are reduced overall time on task, reduced technician information search time and improved situational awareness. Testing will be accomplished on a large, non-flying transport category aircraft similar to those in industry.

Full Paper:  /sites/default/files/files/HOF-IntegratePervasiveComputingASEE2011.pdf


SDViz: A Context-Preserving Interactive Visualization System for Technical Diagrams, 2009


When performing daily maintenance and repair tasks, technicians require access to a variety of technical diagrams. As technicians trace components and diagrams from page-to-page, within and across manuals, the contextual information of the components they are analyzing can easily be lost. To overcome these issues, we have developed a Schematic Diagram Visualization System (SDViz) designed for maintaining and highlighting contextual information in technical documents, such as schematic and wiring diagrams. Our system incorporates various features to aid in the navigation and diagnosis of faults, as well as maintaining contextual information when tracing components/connections through multiple diagrams. System features include highlighting relationships between components and connectors, diagram annotation tools, the animation of flow through the system, a novel contextual blending method, and a variety of traditional focus+context visualization techniques. We have evaluated the usefulness of our system through a qualitative user study in which subjects utilized our system in diagnosing faults during a standard aircraft maintenance exercise.

Full Paper: /sites/default/files/files/HOF-sdviz_eurovis2009.pdf