Share Tweet Share Email

NIU mechanical engineering students explore DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, view MiG-21

March 29, 2013

NIU mechanical engineering students explore DeKalb Taylor Municipal AirportNIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology seeks ways of going beyond the classroom to experience the industry first-hand.

Last month, Nicholas Pohlman took his Mechanical Engineering 453 class to the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport for an up-close viewing of a turbo-jet engine and supersonic aircraft.

The trip related to many topics discussed in class earlier that week.

The Cold War-era MiG-21 aircraft is own by Paul van den Heuvel, a local pilot who flies commercially with United Airlines. The plane was in the midst of its annual inspection so students were able to poke around all of the open panels and see much of the hardware necessary to keep the engine in operation.

“Writing equations and talking about theory are all great,” Pohlman said, “but seeing actual hardware helps create perspective for the engineers about the careful balance in aerospace engineering.”

“It was a great opportunity to see the reality behind the theory that we study in the classroom,” mechanical engineering student Josh Ott added. “It was cool to learn about something and then go see the physical pieces actually working in real life.”

Van den Heuvel was happy to provide the opportunity.

“To be able to actually see and touch something like this is an invaluable tool and aid to learning; and as caretaker of this historic piece of Cold War history, I feel a duty and responsibility to share it with all who care to ask,” van den Heuvel said. “The field trip this year was a huge success, as there were easily three times the number of students as have been there in years past. They asked some truly remarkable, intelligent and well-thought questions.”

NIU mechanical engineering students explore DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport