The Clarkson University Design-Build-Fly SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience & Design) Team brought home a first place trophy at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design-Build-Fly student competition in Wichita, KS last month. The team’s creative design and hard work paid off as they swept the field of 77 teams from 16 countries for their first ever win in this AIAA annual event.
The goal of this competition is to design, fabricate, and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric-powered, radio controlled aircraft which can best meet the specified mission profile.
The Clarkson team entered one of the lightest radio-controlled planes in the contest, made primarily of foam and weighing just 8 ounces. Clarkson’s single-engine plane was powered by a 14KV electric motor that was capable of flying 60 feet per second. The plane’s wingspan was just 9 inches and when combined with the plane’s low weight, gave it an advantage under the scoring system created by AIAA. The team's design paper was also graded prior to the competition and was ranked 2nd which also contributed in the scoring formula.
The competition consisted of a design report, one ground mission, and three flight missions. The ground mission required teams to replace two parts, such as a battery or a wing, chosen by a roll of dice. The first flight mission was three laps around the 1,000-foot course with no added weight. The second was flying the same distance with the maximum number of “passengers” (represented by plastic balls) the plane was designed for. The third was completing as many laps as a team wished with passengers and an added 8-ounce payload, within 10 minutes. The mission scores were combined, then divided by a rated aircraft cost that consisted of the plane’s empty weight multiplied by its wingspan. Clarkson completed their third flight mission with just 15 minutes left on the last day of the event which propelled them into the top spot ahead of Aeronautical Engineering powerhouses Georgia Tech, USC, and Virginia Tech.
The Clarkson University team is comprised of Thomas Smith of Ithaca, N.Y., Joey Kjeldsen of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Mike Kloss of Greenfield Center, N.Y., Logan Ellis of Hemlock, N.Y., Nicholas Schreiber of Clarence Center, N.Y., Drew Meyerhardt of Frisco, TX, Josh Nagle of Gansevoort, N.Y., Julie Helthaler of Woodbourne, N.Y., Delfina Silva of Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal, Hannah Beebie of Lisbon, N.Y., Oskar Weber of South Hadley, MA, Nicholas Mirabile of Hopkinton, MA, and Cain Rodriguez of Walton, N.Y. Ken Visser, Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering, is the team's faculty adviser.