Senior aircraft design project wins first place
It’s always gratifying to get a good grade on a class project. Receiving a first place recognition, including a small monetary award for the same assignment, is even sweeter. Six students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering did just that. They took their senior design project to the next level by entering it into AIAA’s Aerospace Design Engineering Award Aircraft Design Competitions. Out of 20 teams, they took first place for Undergraduate Team Aircraft - Hybrid-Electric General Aviation Aircraft (HEGAA).
The members of Team Hotel (named for the eighth letter of the NATO phonetic alphabet) and their areas of responsibility included: Logan Brodhead, aerodynamics, performance, stability, and control; Alec Cepeda, configuration and CAD; Ethan Clemmitt, structures and loads; Zongxu Dong, propulsion and concept of operations; Joseph Lull, propulsion and costs; and Arvinto Pratomo, CAD. The team will be recognized at the AIAA SciTech Forum at a luncheon on Jan., 10, 2019, in San Diego, California.
The team’s senior design instructors were Research Assistant Professor Huy Tran and Aerospace systems engineering lecturer and program coordinator Steven J. D’Urso, who passed away in February. “The design teams actually completed the first half of their project under the direction of myself and Steve,” Tran said. “Steve’s years of aircraft design experience really brought them a long way.” Tran said he encourages the teams in his class to submit their project to AIAA’s annual contest, but entering is not a class requirement.
“Most of the work we did on our report for the AIAA competition was asked for by our senior design class,” said Ethan Clemmitt. “To make ourselves competitive, we felt it was necessary to do a bit more towards the end of the second semester. After the class was technically finished, we developed a few extra sections of our report, and had one final push to better our report before the submission deadline.”
This year’s AIAA competition requested the design of a two-member Hybrid-Electric General Aviation Aircraft family: a four-seat model with a range of 1,000 nautical miles and a six-seat model with a 750 nmi range. The proposal stated: The intent is to have energy storage for takeoff, climb, go-around and emergencies via batteries and electric motors with an engine providing additional power and/or direct propulsion.
Clemmitt graduated in 2018 and works at The Boeing Company in Seattle as a structural design engineer for commercial aircraft. He said the project taught him to look at aircraft as a collection of systems instead of a collection of equations.
“This project helped bridge the knowledge gap between school and industry,” Clemmitt said. “In designing the structure of the aircraft, I learned about every subsection of aircraft structure, and that knowledge has already carried over to my job and made me a more effective structural engineer. This aircraft holistic awareness will help me see the big picture in my future projects and communicate with engineers of other sub-disciplines.”
Another team member, Logan Brodhead, said he gained valuable experience in working within a team environment.
“Making sure everyone is communicating the problems they are having as well as possible changes that might affect the work of other team members was what was most important to meeting our expectations and deadlines,” Brodhead said. “’Working closely in a team for an extended project, we needed to set intermediate deadlines and goals to achieve our expectations for the design.
“Additionally, coordinating among different sections, like structures and performance, to communicate your needs when neither party fully understands the other’s process was important. Communicating effectively and planning ahead is something I'm sure will continue to pay dividends throughout my career.”