The Aviation 43, propulsion theory lab course, held on the Reid-Hillview campus, is running on all cylinders this semester, thanks to a donation by Kohler Engines, a division of Kohler Company. For the first time, 27 aviation students are using 24 brand new Kohler engines in the lab to discover more about aircraft technology – implementing the principles they’re learning from their instructor, lecturer Lou Demeter.
“The Kohler engine donation will provide a huge benefit to our course and to the technology and aviation department for many years to come,” says Demeter. “The Kohlers provide a good example of basic engine design since they more closely represent the type of engines used in aircraft technology today – it’s the same basic design and construction, only on a smaller scale.”
During class, students learn all about aircraft engine design, development and construction, as well as their operation, performance and efficiency. In the lab, they learn practical application of topics learned in the classroom – how to disassemble the engines, perform inspections and measurements, reassemble, and then perform test runs on a test bench.
According to Demeter, using these engines, students gain hands-on experience and a clearer understanding of the inner working of a piston engine. They see how all parts operate in relation to each other and understand engine assembly, overhaul and maintenance.
“The previous engines we used were not only outdated in design, but were in very poor condition resulting from years of disassembly and reassembly,” Demeter continues. “Many of the students had never worked on any type of engine previously, so this firsthand experience is especially beneficial to their learning.
Students enjoy the engines
Cameron Singh, a senior majoring in aviation with a concentration in operations and minor in business, has good things to say about the class. “Kohler engines are a lot of fun to work with,” says Singh. “Since these engines are brand new and modern, it’s easier to understand the concepts taught by Professor Demeter. Previously, students had to use old, worn out lawn mower engines, which were hard to work on.
“Since my childhood, I’ve wanted to become an airline pilot – I was inspired by growing up in San Bruno, near SFO airport, watching planes land and take off everyday,” muses Singh. “However, after working with the engines, I’ve become interested in the field of maintenance, so have applied to United Airlines for a maintenance summer internship. Since pilot training has become very expensive, the internship will give me an opportunity to experience the maintenance field before making a career decision.”
Another student, Benjamin Little, a senior majoring in aviation operation with a minor in business management, adds, “Working on the Kohler engines was a good hands-on experience. Although I’d already experienced working with a variety of engines, this was my first motor of this type, which made it fun.
“My career goal is to become an air traffic controller for the Federal Aviation Administration. Experimenting with engines has provided good practice for working on projects in a linear and logical fashion.”
Donations, the lifeblood of college programs
Kohler Engines is committed to furthering education and shaping the leaders of tomorrow, according to a recent press release.
As a result, Kohler Engines has donated more than 10,000 engines to hundreds of educational institutions across the country.
According to John Chocholak, California Automotive Teachers Board Member, who initiated the donation program for Kohler Engines, “I am a long-time advocate of San Jose State University’s technology and aviation programs because my son is a graduate, and now serves as a helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard. The excellent hands-on training he received along with his academic studies at SJSU provided a strong foundation for his Coast Guard training.
“When the Kohler donation program became a reality, I knew firsthand that Kohler equipment would benefit SJSU and be well used for hands-on training,” says Chocholak.
“Gifts of this kind are the lifeblood of our program,” says Seth Bates, chair of the technology and aviation department. “We are grateful for Kohler’s commitment to education and that through this donation, the company recognizes the high quality of our programs at SJSU. While the donation is cash valued at up to $10,000, which is significant, that’s only a fraction of its true value when one considers how our students are benefiting from using the latest technology – and how the industry benefits from our graduates being well-prepared for career success.”