A team of five mechanical engineering students won the SAE Aero Design West Collegiate Competition, micro class, for designing an aircraft that was required to pass 50 technical inspection and safety rules to be cleared for take-off.
The three-day competition, which was held recently in California, also included a design proposal, an oral presentation and four rounds of flight for 74 teams which hailed from as far away as Japan, says Team Captain Richelle Dolan.
“The plane had to be transportable, compact, modular, easily assembled in 90 seconds, able to carry a payload over a pre-determined circuit, land in a designated zone with a total weight under ten pounds,” she says.
“The first five planes of the competition ahead of us crashed. When we actually flew the whole audience was cheering, it was exciting,”
The team, made up of Andrei Tineghe, Justin Abbott, Mitchell Campbell, Kevin Brooks, Dolan and the team’s pilot David Carrick, was determined to be ranked among the top three competing. Their result exceeded expectations when they ranked third in the overall competition and first for the presentation section.
“Our presentation was quite an accomplishment, we answered all the required questions in it, to the point the judges had nothing to ask,” says Dolan
The team says that the advice of Assistant Professor and faculty advisor Jeff Defoe during a year long preparation for the competition was a driving force in helping the team reach its goal.
Dolan says that because the competition was run according to industry standards, the experience challenged the students to integrate what they have learned throughout their university career.
“Everything was specific, it was similar to submitting a project proposal to a company for a job. All the skills we had learned from various school projects were combined into one.”