Online Courses Offer Advanced Aviation Education, For Free


Image: MIT

If you’re interested in airplanes and wish you knew more about aerodynamics — or air traffic control, space policy, satellite engineering or airline management — you can study all of those topics and more, for free, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, via their OpenCourseware website. Each course features a syllabus, readings, video lectures, and projects that you can complete at your own pace. The courses don’t include any instructor support, classroom interaction or certification, so learners must be self-motivated. If you prefer more structure, MIT also offers MOOCs, or massive online open courses, together with Harvard, at the EdX website. These courses run on a schedule and offer active discussion forums, and students can receive a certificate when they complete all the coursework.

Upcoming aviation-related courses at EdX include Introduction to Aerodynamics, starting in September, and Flight Vehicle Aerodynamics, starting in January. Students can choose to simply audit the courses, or complete all the homework assignments and exams to earn a Certificate of Mastery. The prerequisites for Intro Aerodynamics include a familiarity with vector calculus, differential equations and control volume analysis, so if you’re starting from familiarity with the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, it may be tough going — but there’s nothing to lose if you fail, and no limit on how many times you can re-take the course.