A team of students from Missouri University of Science and Technology will fly its student-designed and -built airplane over 100 feet into the air and drop a small sandbag onto a target as part of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) annual Aero Design West Competition.
The Aero Design West Competition will be held Friday, April 24, through Sunday, April 26, at the Apollo 11 Field in Encino, California. Missouri S&T’s Advanced Aero Vehicle Group-Aero SAE will compete against 74 other collegiate teams from around the world at the event.
The team’s flight objective is to use its plane to carry a 3-pound “simulated humanitarian aid package,” a sandbag, which must be dropped on a fixed location on the ground. Scoring for this event is based on the sandbag’s proximity to the location.
During flight, electronics on the plane will transmit real-time altitude and a live video feed to the team on the ground. Students will use this data to direct the team’s remote-controller “pilot,” who lines up to drop the sandbag with the help of automatically calculated coordinates through onboard GPS.
Missouri S&T’s plane has a 9-foot wingspan. Its frame is comprised of balsa wood covered in carbon fiber. This combination helps keep the plane lightweight, this year weighing in at approximately 8 pounds.
Students must also pass a visual inspection of their aircraft and present a design report to SAE and Lockheed Martin experts for evaluation and scoring.
Brendan Laiben, a senior in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering from Festus, Missouri, is the Aero SAE team’s president, and Bradley Parks, a junior in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering from Fisk, Missouri, is the chief engineer. Dr. Walter Eversman, Curators’ Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at S&T, is the AAVG faculty advisor.