Learning Design of Experiments with Paper Helicopters
Posted on October 11, 2009 Comments (3)
Dr. George E.P. Box wrote a great paper on Teaching Engineers Experimental Design With a Paper Helicopter that can be used to learn principles of experimental design, including – conditions for validity of experimentation, randomization, blocking, the use of factorial and fractional factorial designs and the management of experimentation.
I ran across an interesting blog post on a class learning these principles today – Brad’s Hella-Copter:
We were to design a helicopter that would drop 3 stories down within the 2ft gap between flights of stairs.
[design of experiments is] very powerful when you have lots of variables (ie. paper type, helicopter blade length, blade width, body height, body width, paperclip weights, etc) and not a lot of time to vary each one individually. If we were to individually change each variable one at a time, we would have made over 256 different helicopters. Instead we built 16, tested them, and got a feel for which variables were most important. We then focused on these important variables for design improvement through further testing and optimization.
Related: 101 Ways to Design an Experiment, or Some Ideas About Teaching Design of Experiments by William G. Hunter (my father) – posts on design of experiments – George Box on quality improvement – Designed Experiments – Autonomous Helicopters Teach Themselves to Fly – Statistics for Experimenters