Tinkering. Tinkering is the polar opposite of the test-driven, results-oriented approach. It involves a loose process of trying things out, seeing what happens, reflecting and evaluating, and trying again.
This is where you start learning.
Learning to be an engineer only through highly structured and directed instructions of books and lectures is not enough. Tinkering is the way where real science happens.
This is my utmost take away from my experience at NAL as a trainee and then as graduate engineer. Prior to NAL, I was tinkering with c language, but NAL, provided me the opportunity to tinker with Matlab, Solidworks, and real experiments and so many things. I learned setting up combustion experiments, I tested and measured centrifugal compressor shaft speeds. I wrote a c program to instruct the gps of a real flying MAV. This is where the real stuff came out.
So the best advice to anyone studying in AeSI right now is to begin cultivating the tinkering mindset. Be open to tinker. Spend your non study hours not on facebook but on tinkering.