AVFL students win top prizes at regional AIAA Conference

AVFL StudentsStudents from the Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory (AVFL) in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University won first and second place at the 2016 AIAA Region IV Student Conference. Students from 13 different schools took part in the competition.

Carl Runco, a graduate student under Dr. Moble Benedict, professor in the aerospace engineering department, placed first in the graduate category. Runco’s project, “Development and Flight Testing of a Meso-Scale Cyclocopter, involved design, development and systematic flight testing (in hover) of a 29 gram meso-scale cyclocopter, which is the smallest cycloidal-rotor-based aircraft ever built. He received $500 and will advance to the final round to present his work at the 2017 AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition (SciTech).

Brett Himmelberg and Adam Kellen, undergraduates in aerospace engineering under Benedict, took first and second place, respectively, in the undergraduate category. A junior in the department, Himmelberg’s project, “Performance Measurements of Meso-Scale Cycloidal Rotors in Hover,” focused on conducting thrust and power measurements on meso-scale cycloidal rotors (weighing less than three grams) using a custom three-component force balance, which he developed. He received $500 and will advance to the final round to present his work at SciTech.

Kellen’s project, “Design, Development and Performance Measurements of a UAV-Scale Cycloidal Rotor,” earned second place in the undergraduate category. A senior in the department, Kellen’s research focused on understanding the upward scalability of the cycloidal rotor concept to be used on large-scale vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). His paper focused on the design/fabrication of a cycloidal rotor for a 10 pound UAV and preliminary performance measurements. He received $300.

Runco and Himmelberg will attend SciTech to be held at Grapevine, Texas, courtesy of AIAA due to their achievements in the student conference. They will present their papers at the International Student Conference.