Classes - Beard

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Syllabus - ECE 674/ME 634


Beard, McLain, Small Unmanned Aircraft: Theory and Practice,
Princeton University Press, 2012.
Princeton University Press, Wiki

Reference Books

There are some excellent textbooks that cover some of the material discussed in this class. Some of the best include:

  • Stevens, Lewis, Aircraft Control and Simulation, Second edition, Wiley, 2003.
  • Phillips, Mechanics of Flight, Second edition, Wiley, 2009.
  • Cook, Flight Dynamics Principles, Second edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007.
  • Roskam, Airplane Flight Dynamics and Automatic Flight Control, Part I and II, DARcorporation, 2001.
  • Nelson, Flight Stability and Automatic Control, McGraw-Hill, 1998.
  • Stengel, Flight Dynamics, Princeton University Press, 2004.


The primary prerequisite for this course is ECEn 483 or ME 431.


The objective of this course is to help you develop an understanding of flight control systems, including dynamic models for UAVs, low level autopilot design, trajectory following, and path planning.


Final grades in the course will be based on the following distribution:

  • Midterm exam - 20%
  • Weekly design project - 50%
  • Ardupilot project - 30%

Class Participation

The class is scheduled from 10-11 a.m. on MWF. We will meet in FB 290 on MW in a traditional lecture format. On Friday we will meet in FB 280 where you can asked questions (at a computer terminal) about the weekly assignments. Since we have a small class, I would like the lecture and computer sessions to be highly interactive. It is my expectation that you will read the material in the assigned chapters prior to the lecture and that you will come prepared to ask questions.

Weekly Design Project

At the end of every chapter is a project assignment. The project assignments replace homework. The idea is to develop a complete flight simulator by the end of the semester. By Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the day that it is due, send me an email with (1) the current status of your simulator, and (2) a movie of the screen showing the working simulator. Late homework will be docked 10% for every week that it is late.

Midterm Exam

The midterm will be during the week of October 22nd.

Arduino Pilot and Project

Rather than having a final exam, we will implement the autopilot technology learned in this class on an Arduino Pilot, which is an open-source autopilot, and demonstrate waypoint following functionality for both hardware in the loop simulation and flight demonstrations. Flight demonstrations will be during the last week of class.


Please respect my office hours. If they are not accommodating, make an appointment with me via email.

Honor Code Standards

In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another. Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university.

Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards. Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and supports an effective learning and working environment. It is the university’s expectation, and my own expectation in class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards Please contact the Honor Code Office (4440 WSC, 422-2847, if you have questions about those standards.

Preventing Sexual Discrimination or Harassment

Sexual discrimination or harassment (including student-to-student harassment) is prohibited both by the law and by Brigham Young University policy. If you feel you are being subjected to sexual discrimination or harassment, please bring your concerns to the professor. Alternatively, you may lodge a complaint with the Equal Employment Office (D-240C ASB, 422-5895, or with the Honor Code Office (4440 WSC, 422-2847,

Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability that may affect your performance in this course, you should get in touch with the office of University Accessibility Center (1520 WSC, 422-2767, This office can evaluate your disability and assist the professor in arranging for reasonable accommodations.