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SAE Aero Design Competition

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2016 Team Photo

The Cedarville 2016 Team:  Dr. Tim Norman (Faculty Advisor), Daniel Jolley, Andrew Johnson, Jason Reep and Forrest Thayer

Cedarville’s 2015-2016 Aero Design team competed in the SAE Advanced Class Aero Design competition for their first time. The competition was held in Fort Worth, Texas in March 2016. The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Aero Design Competition consists of three different levels of competition: Micro Class, Regular Class, and Advanced Class.  Previous Cedarville teams competed in the Micro Class and Regular Class competitions earning first place overall and more recently, first place in design.

 “This competition showcases the strength of our engineering program and readiness of our students to design in real world applications,” says Dr. Tim Norman, team faculty advisor.

In each of these competitions, students design, build and fly remote controlled aircraft according to the rules specified by the SAE organization. At all levels, students are challenged to design planes that efficiently lift cargo either by hand takeoff (Micro Class) or runway takeoff (Regular and Advanced Glass). The Advanced Class is the most challenging of the competitions and entries are generally from schools with aeronautical engineering programs. This class requires that aircraft carry an expellable cargo that is dropped mid-flight to hit a target while using a first person view telemetry system.  The onboard telemetry components are required to monitor airspeed and altitude and transfer the data to a ground station where a payload specialist guilds the pilot to proper airspeed and altitude. Also, an onboard camera broadcasts the aerial image to the field station that provides visual information to the field computer for prediction of the drop location. The competitions ultimate goal is autonomous flight.  

Cedarville's Aero Design plane delivering its payload

Cedarville's airplane delivering its payload during competition.

Dr, Norman commented that “This competition pushed the Cedarville students to utilize skills from multiple areas of engineering: aero, mechanical, electrical and computer. It’s unique in that respect unlike any other competition out there.”

The overall aero design competition had a total of seventy-five teams entered from the US and around the world of which nineteen teams took the Advanced Class challenge. Scoring is based on three parts: a written report, a presentation, and flying. Of the nineteen teams, only seven successfully dropped within the target region and Cedarville was among those teams. The team’s aircraft successfully dropped within the target placing 7th in flying ahead of teams from The University of Michigan, Vellore Institute of India and McGill of Canada. Georgia Institute of Technology, Wroclaw University of Poland and The University of Cincinnati finished ahead of Cedarville's team. The team also placed 6th in presentation and 16th in the design report.

The team consisted of senior team members Daniel Jolley, Andrew Johnson (Team Captain), Jason Reep, Forrest Thayer and Pilots Keith Numbers (Dayton, OH) and Eduardo Voloch (Atlanta GA). Dr. Norman commented  ”this year’s team continued the inspiration to compete at this level started by the 2014-2015 aero design team.”  That team consisted of now alumni Daniel Muller, Sarah Harbeck, Michael Brittan (Team Captain), Daniel Cape, Joe Franklin and Joel Baker. For being first to compete in SAE advanced class, the 2015-1016 aero design team leaves a legacy that will propel Cedarville Universities Aero Design Team for years to come.