SAE Aero Design Team Takes First Place at SAE Aero Design West Competition

SAE Aero Design Team 2014 WebThe SAE Aero Design Team from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University won first place overall in the Regular Class of the International SAE Aero Design West Competition in Fort Worth, TX over the weekend of March 28 – 30, 2014.  Competing against 33 schools from five countries, the team also took first place in oral presentation and a second place in the design report competition.  The 2014 team was led by Technical Captain Russell Trahan along with Business Captain and Stability & Control Lead Brookelynn Russey, Aerodynamics Lead Chris Lizaso, Structures Lead Armando Padilla, and Metrology & Operations Lead Chris Bertagne.

The is just the sixth year that the SAE Aero Design team from Texas A&M has competed, and the competition was the most exciting and dramatic in the team’s history. The SAE Aero Design competition is intended to provide undergraduate and graduate engineering students with a real-life engineering challenge: design, build, and fly an original R/C aircraft capable of lifting as much weight as possible within the competition’s design constraints. The competition has been designed to provide exposure to the kinds of situations that engineers face in their real-life work environment. First and foremost a design competition, students find themselves performing trade studies and making compromises to arrive at a design solution that will optimally meet the mission requirements while still conforming to the configuration limitations.

The overall score is a combination of three scores: the oral presentation, the design report, and the flight performance. The flight performance consists of 5 rounds where the teams score points for each successful flight. After three rounds, Texas A&M had a substantial 32 point lead. However, in round four Texas A&M crashed and destroyed the entire front of their aircraft. Another team then lifted over twice the payload of any other team and jumped to 1st place with an 8 point lead. The Aggies pulled together and repaired the whole front of the aircraft including all the mountings for the electronics, motor, and landing gear. In the fifth round, the leading team crashed. Texas A&M had one chance to lift enough weight to win. The plane landed hard and the motor mount fell off. However, the rules state that the flight is successful if you can pick up the aircraft all in one piece. The motor held on by two wires. Texas A&M won first place overall by 1.3 points with a total score of 166 points.

Team members include Chris Lizaso, Austin McShan, Alex Voss, Gabino Torres, Kevin Hainline, Nico Hurst, Brookelyn Russey, Russell Trahan, Armando Padilla, Akshay Shankar, Taylor Thomas, Nick Page, Chris Bertagne, Chase Lookofsky and Taylor Dickens, all under the direction of Dr. Suman Chakravorty, Associate Professor in the aerospace department.