Gift from alumnus William ‘Ted’ Frantz ’80 will help engineering students take flight
Gift from alumnus William ‘Ted’ Frantz ’80 will help engineering students take flightDecember 03, 2007Tricia Hopkinsthopkins@syr.edu
Beginning in the Fall 2008 semester, aerospace engineering students in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS) will be able to incorporate flight simulation experience into their studies. A $602,000 gift to the college’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from LCS aerospace engineering alumnus William “Ted” Frantz ’80 of Bellevue, Wash., will allow the department to purchase a Fidelity MOTUS 622i, one of the most advanced flight simulators available worldwide.
“I was approached by the College of Engineering looking for funding to add a flight simulator to the program. Since I would have liked to have had a flight simulator to experiment with while I was at Syracuse, making the gift was an easy decision,” says Frantz. “It will enable students to get hands-on experience with flight vehicles that they design, and will allow experimenting with the ‘edge of the envelope’ without endangering any persons or property.”
Frantz says he once flew a 737 simulator at the Boeing Corp. and, just for fun, tried to take off in a 70-knot tailwind. “Needless to say, it couldn’t be done, because the airplane kept wanting to weathervane into the wind, resulting in the airplane spinning out on the runway,” Frantz says. “The simulator will allow these types of conclusions to be reached not only on a theoretical level, but in a real, experiential way.”
“Mr. Frantz’ generosity will allow LCS students to expand their knowledge of aerospace engineering and in-air flight,” says Shiu-Kai Chin, interim dean of LCS. “They will quickly move from classroom theory to real world in-flight simulation and problem solving.”
Link Hall, the home of LCS on the SU campus, was named for Edwin A. Link, who created the Link Flight Simulator Co. and the Link Trainer as a way to train pilots to fly by instrument flight rules. Former LCS Dean Earl Kletsky obtained and rebuilt a Link Trainer for the college in the late 1980s to expose students to important principles of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Although the intention was to use it in current courses, mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Hiroshi Higuchi, an instrument-rated, commercially licensed pilot, tested the simulator and found that it didn’t meet the needs in training today’s students. “The World War II vintage flight simulation technique it employed did not reflect sufficiently realistic flight dynamics,” Higuchi says.
Higuchi traveled to England and Pittsburgh to inspect four different flight simulators used for educational purposes and found that the Fidelity simulator best met the college’s needs. “The proposed unit is beyond comparison, and not many full-motion flight simulators of this capability are on university campuses worldwide,” he says.
Exercises and training in the simulator will be integrated into the “Dynamics of Aerospace Vehicles” course that all aerospace engineering students take, and the unit will eventually be used in all undergraduate programs in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The simulator will also be integrated into other upper-level aerospace courses; ECS 101, the introductory course that is required of all freshmen in the college; and in outreach programs involving K-12 students as part of the University’s Scholarship in Action vision.
“With the addition of a full-motion flight simulator, every aerospace engineering student will have the opportunity to experience his or her own simulated flight firsthand,” says Alan Levy, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “Senior design projects will be able to be programmed into the flight simulator, thus giving the students a realistic vision of what would happen if their designs were implemented into flight. These experiences are invaluable and will prove to enhance the learning experience for every aerospace engineering student.”
Of Frantz’s $602,000 gift, $239,000 will be used to purchase the simulator and $163,000 will be used to prepare the facilities in Link Hall for installation. The remaining $200,000 will be used to create an endowment to support hardware and software maintenance.
Frantz received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from LCS and shortly after graduation worked for Boeing Corp. in Seattle. A licensed pilot, Frantz currently is an investment manager working for Haebler Capital as vice president.