December 3, 2007

AERO Design Project Takes Off

Senior capstone project will culminate with international competition in April

Several senior mechanical engineering majors are reaching new heights academically, professionally, and competitively as designs for this year’s SAE competition aircraft are underway.

For the 10 seniors on this year’s team, their capstone project will culminate with the annual international SAE Competition April 18-20 in Marietta, Ga. They will compete against teams from institutions across the United States and as far away as Australia and Japan. Louis Hayden, visiting part-time instructor of mechanical engineering, is advising the project.

“The aircraft must take off within a distance of 200 ft., fly a complete revolution around the field carrying as much extra weight as possible, and land, fully intact, within a distance of 400 ft,” explains team project manager Gregory Cohen (Woodbridge, Conn.). “Bonus points are awarded to teams who accurately predict how much weight their aircraft can lift.”

Additionally, the students must complete a written report for the building of their aircraft and deliver a 15 minute technical sales pitch explaining how and why the aircraft works. These two elements plus the flight comprise the team’s final score for the competition.

Other students on the team include Steven Roe (Lackawaxen, Pa.), Clark Britan (Falls Church, Va.), Ryan Murphy (Dallas, Pa.), Daniel Pucci (Nutley, N.J.), Samuel Raynor (Glastonbury, Conn.), Sara Riddle (Gaylordsville, Conn.), Anthony Rucci (Catasauqua, Pa.), Christopher Sacco (Berkeley Heights, N.J.), and Minza Zahid (Karachi, Pakistan).

Hayden explains that the College’s teams in years past have done exceptionally well and that his goals for this year have only increased.

“Mainly, I want these students to have a fun learning experience that prepares them for careers in industry and gives them an edge when applying to graduate school,” says Hayden. “For this year, specifically, we would like to place in the scholastic (oral and written) aspects of the competition at the same exceptional level as the design aspects. We’ve outdone actual AERO design institutions, including the Air Force Academy, when it comes to our aircraft design, construction and flight. We would like to bring our scholastic presentation up to that same level.”

Hayden says the project allows students to use their three years of engineering education in a real world atmosphere on a project which they might run into out in the industry.

“Very few engineers work alone. Most work on a team to tackle a specific project,” Hayden explains. “This class is different in that there is a lot of self study and self education in a team setting. The students are learning to inter rely on one another,”

Additionally, the students are developing their knowledge and skill levels in complex computer programs, including manual design analysis, computational fluid dynamics, and finite element analysis. They are also learning the professional software used to make layouts and drawings of their designs, as well as rigorously exercising their time and resource management skills.

“[This project] allows you to explore many different areas of engineering in the fields of design, construction, and marketing,” says Roe. “It’s a great hands-on way to figure out what you like to do.”

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