Aero Design Team Soars Above Competition

by Jenni Hodges, Public Relations Writer

Aero design teams from Cedarville University recently received awards for their airplane designs at an international Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition in Fort Worth, Texas. Cedarville’s senior team won second place for their design, with a score only two-tenths behind the winning team from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The underclassman team placed fourth in design, and the two teams placed sixth and seventh overall.

Professor of mechanical engineering Tim Norman, Ph.D., said the students worked throughout the school year to design, build and test their planes in preparation for the event. “We’re competing against teams from around the world,” Norman said, “and they bring their best.”

The SAE competition requires engineering students to design and build radio-controlled airplanes that meet specific design challenges. Teams were judged by Lockheed Martin engineers, who evaluated the quality of their work.

Senior team captain Nathan Gray of Milford, N.H., said the competition provided students with realistic engineering experience because it required them to work within specific constraints, balance conflicting goals and manage time and money. Gray said the seniors also worked with a supplier in Fairborn, Ohio, to have special parts made according to their designs.

Norman said the competition also provides an opportunity for mechanical engineering students at Cedarville to gain special experience in aero design. Cedarville students have been competing in this event for more than 20 years.

This year, Norman said the teams also demonstrated outstanding conduct at the competition. Cedarville students helped several other teams get their planes back in the air, including the Georgia Institute of Technology’s winning team.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,400 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Inspiring greatness for over 125 years, Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at