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Engineering students compete in SAE Aero Design competition

A team of students from Ohio Northern University’s Smull College of Engineering competed in the Lockheed Martin / Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aero Design 2012 competition, hosted by Georgia Model Aviators. Northern’s team finished 22nd out of 40 squads in its class during the competition, which was staged in conjunction with the SAE Aero Design East 2012 event in Cumming, Ga., April 27-29.

For the competition, each team must design, build and fly a radio-controlled model airplane that is able to take off, fly successfully and land with a payload on board. The payload is increased between flight rounds to see which team is able to lift the most weight.

Prior to the flight competition, the students must deliver a written design report detailing the performance prediction and design considerations for the aircraft. At the competition, the students make a formal oral presentation to a panel of judges, again outlining the design considerations and flight performance predictions. Both the oral presentation and written report are graded, and the points enter into the overall score, along with the performance points obtained during the flight rounds.

The ONU group represents the ONU chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) professional society. There were three classes of contestants in the competition: micro class, regular class, and unlimited class. Each class was subject to a different set of rules, and the aircraft in each class varied in size.

“The plane flew very well but experienced a few technical difficulties that kept her from flying in every round, thus costing the team points,” said Dr. Jed E. Marquart, professor of mechanical engineering and the team’s advisor. “Although the finish was not as they had hoped, the team has an intact plane to work with to consider designs for the future. This is as opposed to last year, when the team won the coveted ‘Best Crash Award’ at the competition. Plans have already begun for next year’s entry. The students intend to make a serious run (flight) for the top spot.”

ONU participated in the regular class. Members of the ONU team were Matt Smith, a senior mechanical engineering major from Norton, Ohio; Logan Kingen, a junior mechanical engineering major from Pandora, Ohio; Andy Starr, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Clayton, Ohio; Adam Black, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Aurora, Colo.; Sean Nuzum, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Urbana, Ohio; Jacob Patrick, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, Berea, Ohio; and Eric Holodnak, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Jefferson, Ohio.

The team nicknamed its airplane “Biggs Bird” in honor of the Biggs Engineering Building at ONU, where they spent many, many hours during the design and construction.


In the photo: kneeling, left to right:  Eric Holodnak, Logan Kingen, Adam Black; standing, left to right:  Andrew Starr, Sean Nuzum, Jacob Patrick, Matt Smith