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ONU AIAA Students Compete in Design, Build, Fly Competition

 2009 AIAA DBF Competition

Nine ONU engineering students, along with their faculty advisor, recently traveled to Tucson, Ariz. to participate in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Undergraduate Design, Build, and Fly (DBF) Competition.  The competition was held at the TIMPA Airfield, in the desert outside of Tucson, on April 17-19.

The goal of the DBF competition was for each team to design, build and fly a radio controlled model airplane that could successfully complete a variety of missions.  In addition to standard flight, these missions included carrying a four-liter centerline tank both empty and full of water, as well as carrying four ballasted Estes Patriot rockets (1.5 lbs each) under the wings.  Each of these stores was to be releasable remotely and individually.  Specifications were provided regarding minimum takeoff and landing distances for a successful mission, as well as other required mission parameters.  The propulsion system was dictated to be an electric motor and propeller, with an imposed maximum battery weight limitation.

Scoring factors at the competition included:

·         The written design and performance report, which was due to the committee six weeks prior to the competition.

·         Tech inspection, which included proper packaging of the aircraft for transit and storage.

·         Pre-flight inspection, which included a drop test of the container and timed assembly of the aircraft for flight readiness.

·         Mission completion and timing of the missions.

A total of 54 teams submitted design reports this year and 41 teams traveled to Tucson for the fly-off from as far away as Slovakia and Israel.  Over 600 students, faculty and guests were present at the R/C airfield to watch and cheer on the teams.  A spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition was present among the teams, with much sharing of ideas and encouragement taking place.

The ONU entry was dubbed ‘The Black Swan’ by the team.  Despite having a truly impressive aircraft, and one that was highly admired by the other teams present, the ONU team was plagued by electronics failures, which eventually resulted in a disappointing but spectacular crash onto the asphalt runway, thus ending their competition for this year.  However, they will be back next year!

The students are all members of the ONU chapter of AIAA.  Their majors include mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.  ‘Team ONU’ consisted of Josh Cox (mechanical engineering from Akron, Ohio), Michael Dunn (mechanical engineering from Columbus, Ohio), Steve Hunt (mechanical engineering from Lima, Ohio), Amy Murray (electrical engineering from Botkins, Ohio), David Rogers (mechanical engineering from Cincinnati, Ohio), Chris Slattery (mechanical engineering from Mt. Pleasant, Pa.), Pat Smith (mechanical engineering from Loveland, Ohio), Josh Stone (computer engineering from Burton, Ohio) and Matt Zehner (mechanical engineering from Shelby, Ohio).  Their faculty advisor is Dr. Jed Marquart, Professor of Mechanical Engineering.