Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

MAE 1202 - Aerospace Practicum

Spring 2003

In Aerospace Practicum, a Freshman-level introductory class in Aerospace Engineering, groups of students design and build a small model aircraft as part of a competitive design competition. Each team is given an identical electric motor and propeller. Team must design a plane using this propulsion system that will carry a maximum payload while flying tethered to a post. The tether provides an electrical feed to the airplane, and hence there is no need to carry batteries. The team that builds the airplane that carries the greatest payload in sustained flight is the winner.

The project requires student teams to address the following issues:

  • Selection of an airfoil and aerodynamic configuration for efficient low speed flight
  • Selection of lightweight materials and structural design concepts
  • Weight and balance

Students present their designs in an oral Preliminary Design Review and a written Final Report. The success of their efforts is also evaluated based on the performance of the aircraft and the team in the flight tests.

Part of the motivation of this project is to acquaint students with aspects of group design projects, such as the need for effective communication and how to work effectively with other students. Such experience will hopefully benefit the students as they complete more sophisticated design projects in the rest of their academic careers, culminating in the Senior Design course sequence.

Instructors: D. Fleming, C. Subramanian

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Winning Team (2003)Repairs (2003)Winning Plane (2003)