I’ve found that, apart from lectures which include the entire class and comprise two to three hours per day, that all lab-time is effectively self-guided. Well, it’s not self-guided, per se, but guided by you and your lab partner, which is critical to learning. You can’t do it alone, you can’t do anything alone in life, but I digress.
Back to lab partners for a moment — it would be nice if we had more than just a single lab partner, but in the present scenario we find ourselves in, it’s not possible to have learning groups of three or four students sharing knowledge and learnings.
Right, so self-directed labs: Yes, there are certain things that you’ll need to do and demonstrate understanding of concepts, and the instructors do have a general roadmap for learning, but I’ve found that it seems very much self-guided.
No, you won’t be mucking about on airframes or in engines or turbines* until you obtain the exposure to basic concepts. As your experience grows, additional opportunities for learning will present themselves.
So, no, there aren’t any collective labs that need to be accomplished by the class as a whole, but individually, you’ll be exploring each of the labs.
I have found that after I’d spent what must have been a few hours trying to interpret a particular chart — to which we didn’t have any exposure or understanding of (the concept seems to have been to challenge the learner to see how they may interpret it, not knowing how it’s used, nor what it’s called), things rather clicked into place when I realized that I was horribly over-interpreting its enormous amount of information, but that we only needed one tiny bit of its figures.
Also, in another diagram, the question presented was, “How many miles per gallon will the plane get at 7500′, an RPM of 2600, and a ground speed of 172 MPH?” It seemed a non sequitur — asking for miles per gallon? And ground speed? For an airplane? Obviously I was painfully over-analyzing it.
Look at the basics! I have a lifetime of knowledge and experience that seems to be something of an impediment. But they haven’t described in lectures for learners new to the concept of aviation that we use airspeed for aircraft, not ground speed. What do new students know? Ground speed. MPH and KPH.
* I’m rather looking forward to getting some hands-on with both radials and turbines to run them, tear them down and rebuild them, and run them some more.