This paper describes various techniques employed in a novel approach to instruction and assessment of an undergraduate sequence in thermo-propulsion at the United States Air Force (USAF) Academy. Integrated motivational contexts aid development of foundations in thermodynamics, compressible gas dynamics, and propulsion while reinforcing engineering problem solving skills. Students are first oriented to the context of new material. Subsequent lessons fortify the context, giving students the opportunity to collaborate on team design projects and interact with industry and government guest speakers. Real-world, practical examples and homework further motivate and help students grasp key concepts. Tests are administered in both oral and written formats with open-ended, scenario-based questions to assess student understanding of fundamentals. Grading procedures focus on analytical methods as opposed to numerical results. Specific performance criteria validate the achievement of course educational outcomes. Student course critique scores and written comments further support the assertion that a contextual framework is highly effective in teaching fundamental thermo-propulsion concepts.

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