Campus & Community

Stevens Mechanical Engineering Team Creates Aircraft for SAE Competition 2011

Transporting payload could have a big payoff for a Stevens Institute of Technology senior design team competing at the 2011 Aero Design East challenge. The team is designing and building a specialized radio-controlled aircraft with high lift that is capable of short takeoff and landing (STOL). They will compete in the SAE Heavy Lift Aircraft Competition April 29-May 1, 2011 in Marietta, Georgia. Before that, they will present their plane at the Senior Design Exposition Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Hoboken, NJ.

"The project has students build a heavy-lift aircraft to SAE standards," says the team's advisor Dr. Siva Thangam, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Dean of Academic Administration. "It gives them important real-world experience that will benefit them in their professional life."

The team is comprised of five senior Mechanical Engineering students: Shawn Beyer, Robert Zuilkowski, Rudolph Adametz, Matthew Dos Santos, and Sandi Von Ohlen.

"Through this project, our team was able to apply the technical aerospace and mechanical engineering principles we have learned throughout our undergraduate education to design and prototype an aircraft capable of fulfilling the specific requirements of the competition," says team member Shawn Beyer '11.

Shawn is pursuing a Bachelor's of Engineering Degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering, as well as a Master's certificate in Robotics. His love of Aerospace Engineering led him to this project, which he has wanted to carry out since his freshman year.

"I'm very interested in Aerospace, specifically aircraft and spacecraft design," Shawn says. "It is very well-aligned with my professional goals. I want to get into the aerospace industry and design aircraft or work in the systems that support aircraft."

Among a number of other design requirements, the craft must have a maximum weight of 55 pounds and a maximum combined length, width, and height of 225 inches.

After spending the fall semester engaged in engineering design and analysis, the team has begun fabrication. Soon the test flights will begin as they get a feel for flying the plane and tweak it for maximum efficiency.

The team has made it easy to track their progress through the senior design process, with a Facebook page, Youtube account, and Twitter account.

For Shawn, the project serves as an important step toward advancing his engineering career. "I think this project has really given me a lot of experience in the practical application of a lot of the engineering and scientific fundamentals that I've learned throughout my undergraduate career."

About Senior Design
Senior Design projects give students the opportunity to apply classroom learning to design real-life products that showcase students' abilities for employers and the Stevens Community. The projects culminate in the Senior Design Exposition that will take place Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Hoboken New Jersey. Some submit their products to competition, like the Aero Design East challenge. These projects have real-world implications, such as the "Stevens Goes Green" design team, which is capitalizing on a national recycling competition to advance recycling at Stevens. Last year's Digital Triage Assistant Team won first place at the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering Student Poster Competition, first place at the Rochester Institute of Technology's IEEE Student Design Contest '10, and were finalists in the 2010 CIMIT Prize for Primary Healthcare Competition.