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Aero Design Competition Pushes Students

by Ryan Bower, Assistant Director of Public Relations

Cedarville University’s aero design team reached a milestone this year when it competed in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Advanced Class Aero Design competition for the first time in school history.

Cedarville’s team consisted of 2016 engineering graduates Daniel Jolley (Danielson, Connecticut), Andrew Johnson (Kent City, Michigan), Jason Reep (Springfield, Ohio), and Forrest Thayer (Naperville, Illinois). Tim Norman, Ph.D., professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, served as the team’s faculty adviser.

The event, which was held in Fort Worth, Texas, in March, featured competitions in the Micro, Regular and Advanced Class divisions. Cedarville has previously competed in and won the Micro and Regular Class competitions, but had never competed in the Advanced Class division.

In each of the competitions, students design, build, and fly remote-controlled aircraft according to SAE-approved rules and regulations. The Advanced Class is the most challenging of all competitions, and requires aircraft to drop cargo in a specific target area while in mid-flight.

“This was a great chance for Cedarville to showcase the strength of its engineering program and the readiness of our students to apply their skills to real-world application,” said Norman.

A total of 19 schools from five different countries participated in the Advanced Class division, and Cedarville was one of just seven teams that successfully completed the drop. The University of Tennessee placed first overall while Cedarville finished seventh, one spot ahead of the University of Michigan.

“This competition pushed our students to utilize skills from multiple areas of engineering,” said Norman. “The competition is unique because it incorporates aero, mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. There are only a few collegiate engineering competitions that combine so many different engineering disciplines.” 

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,711 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit

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