CU Brother Duo Takes Grand Prize at Aero Design West

by Public Relations Office

Cedarville, Ohio—Brothers Brian and Nathan Foote, Cedarville University mechanical engineering majors from Issaquah, Wash., won the grand prize recently in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aero Design West competition. This is the first time that a Cedarville team has taken the grand prize in Aero Design. In Aero Design, students design and build radio controlled model planes and then incrementally increase the planes` payloads to find out whose model can carry the most. Points are awarded for the quality of the teams` written and oral presentations, the amount of weight each plane carries, and how closely teams predict the weight their plane will carry given the weather conditions. To successfully compete, the planes must take off in less than 200 feet, circle the field at least once, and then land in a 400-foot zone. At the West event, the brothers` 5.25-pound plane was able to carry a 23-pound load. This, combined with their high scores in other areas of the competition, put them in first place. The brothers` scores topped the results of schools such as UCLA, RIT, Michigan Tech, University of Akron, and other institutions from around the world. Before competing at Aero Design West, the Footes competed in Aero Design East, held in May at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. (A second team of Cedarville engineering students was also in the East competition.) Both teams` planes flew successfully in the beginning of the competition, but later crashed. Undaunted after the demise of their plane, the Footes built a duplicate model in just 14 hours. They determined that they would compete in the Palmdale, Calif., Aero Design West competition on their way home to Washington following Brian`s graduation from Cedarville. "The two brothers have been diligent, trying new things and being very careful in their construction. They`ve been in the thick of competition since they`ve been here," commented Dr. Harwood Hegna, professor of mechanical engineering. Hegna co-advised the Cedarville Aero Design teams along with Dr. Peter Burban, associate professor of mechanical engineering. Hegna continued, " Cedarville has been sending teams to Aero Design since the early `90s. We`ve consistently been placing in the top half since we began going to these competitions." Founded in 1905, SAE is a professional organization of engineers, business executives, educators, and students. With more than 83,000 members, the society strives to promote vehicle safety and maintenance, energy resource conservation, and idea exchange for advancing mobility systems engineering. More information is available at