Application of Digital Curation to Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace Engineering. Sounds cool. Looks cool. It’s definitely a field with a LOT of potential! It is also a field with a lot of competition stemming from rockets to business jets to passenger Aircraft and let’s not forget the race to design the most efficient Military Aircraft. We can also throw in the quad-copters, drones and satellites in to that pile. At the end of the day, there is so much out there and it’s all growing so fast that it gets difficult for an aerospace engineer to keep up.  And keeping up is crucial for us.


When it comes to applying for jobs, it is vital that an Aerospace engineer know what is currently happening in the industry with respect to technology, research and development because at the end of the day, employers want to hire the candidate who knows the market and can be an asset, not a liability. Being knowledgeable about the latest innovations in aerospace is definitely an impressive asset. So how do we keep up with up with the vast amount of knowledge available to us? We create a digital curation system which organizes and filters the information for us. I mean, we can do it manually but that’s not efficient, and efficiency is key to engineering.

Let’s begin with a simple plan

What’s the point of having a Digital Curation System in place?

A digital curation system tailoring to the needs of Aerospace Engineers will allow the engineers, both students and professionals, young and old, to keep up with the latest innovations and technologies. No longer will it be difficult for the older generation to keep up with the younger more motivated ones. Not only that, but it will be easy for aerospace engineers to find the information they need. In the words of Michiel Gaasterland, benefits of customizing curation “is that your friends, connections and followers don’t have to plough through masses of tweets, blog posts, news feeds and search results to find quality content. You have already done that for them!” (Gaasterland, 2016), which pretty much means curating information makes it easier for others to access it.

Existing Platforms

Flipp Android Image (CNW Group/Wishabi)

Alltop, Stumbleupon and Flipboard are a few examples of existing curation applications. Each of these platforms target a specific type of data and offer it to the users. Alltop for example curates the latest news for a specific topic and shows the 5 most recent posts in order to give the user an essence about the topic and not limit them to their personal bubble (About Alltop, 2016). Stumbleupon on the other hand is a website which offers information based on the user’s preferences, which is otherwise just adding information to their bubbles rather than expanding it (Dashburst, 2016). Flipboard works similarly to Stubleupon where it curates articles and blogs and presents it based on the user’s preferences. Another popular medium is the Flipp app, which works slightly differently. This app curates weekly, monthly, and even yearly sales from all flyers at a particular area and presents it to the user. It makes shopping easy because customers no longer need to sift through pages and pages of flyers to find the deal they are looking for. They can simply search it on the app. It is also ecofriendly because there is no need to have as many paper flyers anymore. The Aerospace curation system will be a combination of all of these apps.

Getting started

As with all curation systems, this one will need to provide information pertaining to a wide range of audiences. Similar to how Flighthub provides airline tickets ranging from economy to first class, the Aerospace curation system will need to be tailored to individuals with less knowledge such as first year students to those more knowledgeable such as professors and managers. To implement this idea, everything from Aerospace definitions to highly technical public data will need to be gathered and available for the users. It will be like an aerospace encyclopedia. The system will be split into the major aerospace streams: Aircraft (commercial and military), Space (Rockets and satellites), Avionics and Other (quadcopters, drones, etc.). A database will then need to be created to pull information about specific trends and topics, categorize them and make them available for the users. The authenticity of the content will need to be validated and the data will need to be filtered for redundancy and legitimacy.


As mentioned above, this new app needs to appeal to a wide range of customers with a broad range of knowledge. To meet this content requirement, the app will be designed so it publishes top 5 topics from each of the aerospace streams. When any of the topics are selected, the page will show the following information:

  • Definition
  • History/Background
  • Associations (who designed/ came up with the idea)
  • Application (how and where is it being used)
  • Latest News/Media coverage
  • Unique/Interesting fact

The user will then select the subtopic of interest to explore more about the topic. If all of these points are covered, even professors who are professionals in their topic will want to use the app because they’ll be curious about the unique or interesting facts.

Filter Implementation

The objective of this App is quality over quantity, to filter the information out there, gather all the ones related to aerospace, categorize them among Aircraft, Space, Avionics and Others, and provide the latest and most relevant information for the users. The filter will be a software which searches for keywords. A list of keywords will first need to be compiled for aerospace related content, among them will be terms like: lift, drag, control systems, flight control, APU, ECU, etc. The content will then be filtered further for relevance and redundancy by eliminating pages which contain content that is at least 60% similar to another page. From among the remaining content, it will be divided into the 4 categories. The users can search content by category or subscribe to see “topic of the week”.


Presently, there are many software which exist as a platform to curate information. Among them, for an app which has to deal with information flow, new innovations and the latest technologies, iFlow, Learnist, Triberr and Curata are the most relevant platforms. iFlow is a platform which allows the user to create industry specific filters and suggests content to the user, exactly what we would need for the Aerospace App (McCoy, 2016). Learnist is an application which encourages learning and uses a similar platform to what the Aerospace App needs. It works similarly to Pinterest where there are learning boards and users can pick a topic and the app will create a sequence of steps to make learning easy (Basu, 2016). Triberr is the social network of bloggers. It allows bloggers who write about similar topics to come together and read, comment and share each other’s posts (Triberr for Bloggers, 2016). It is a great way to gather and share information and knowledge.

Screenshot from

Curata is a well-known and widely used platform that is excellent at gathering information and would be ideal for the Aerospace App. As stated on their website, “Curata is a comprehensive, business-grade, SaaS content curation solution that automates the tedious tasks (search, organizing, and publishing ) while giving you complete, centralized control of the human tasks (evaluation, contextualizing, and approval)” (What is Curata, 2016).  Curata, in combination with iFlow, Learnist and Triberr would make the perfect software to curate data for us. All of this information cannot be blindly presented to the users; it needs to be reviewed and controlled. Curata allows the data to be controlled if needed which will address this problem.

Future Design Considerations

Once the Aerospace App is released to the public, a feedback system will be implemented where the users can rate their satisfaction and leave comments regarding improvements. In later versions of the app, these comments and reviews will be considered. With later versions of the app, the aerospace fields may be split into more categories to encompass a larger scope. For example, the aircraft stream can be split into commercial, business and military. This would be a benefit for the aerospace engineers out there because it is difficult to gather information about military aircraft but the app would do the tedious work for them and make it easy for the users.


Advantages and Disadvantages 

Having a passive method of curating data pertaining to aerospace engineering will greatly simplify the lives of the engineers. For students, this means writing research papers will become simpler because they need to visit one site and it will give them all relevant and up to date information about the topic. For professionals, this app will enable them to quickly look up any topics of discussion during a meeting or conference. This app will also allow aerospace engineers to keep up with the latest innovations in aerospace.

There are, however, a few setbacks to this app. It will limit certain websites that appear redundant to the system. There will be conflict when facing two legitimate sources with the same information because the software will be confused between which one is more relevant and should be visible to the user. Issues like this will need to be fixed with a lot of human intervention. In the future revisions of the app, a more automatic method of dealing with these problems will need to be considered.


About Alltop. (2016, 7 2). Retrieved from Alltop:

Basu, S. (2016, 7 2). How To Use Learnist To Effectively Organize Your Learning & Teaching. Retrieved from MakeUseOf:

Dashburst. (2016, 7 2). What is StumbleUpon and How Does it Work? Retrieved from Small Business Trends:

Gaasterland, M. (2016, 6 30). Michiel Gaasterland Marketing 2.0 in plain language. Retrieved from Michiel Gaasterland :

McCoy, J. (2016, 7 1). 17 of the Best Content Curation Tools to Use. Retrieved from Express Writers:

Triberr for Bloggers. (2016, 7 2). Retrieved from Triberr:

What is Curata. (2016, 7 2). Retrieved from Curata:


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