Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

A senior design project in mechanical engineering is giving eight students the opportunity to design, build, and test a radio-controlled aircraft that can take off and land while carrying the heaviest possible cargo.

Erol Ulucakli, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is advising the team of seniors Ductri Nguyen (Manville, N.J.), Timothy Dooner (Malvern, Pa.), Thomas Burns (Malvern, Pa.), Carl Haslestad (Longwood, Fla.), Brian Holt (Topanga, Calif.), Andrew Maurer (Selinsgrove, Pa.), Jason Monico (Succasunna, N.J.), and Christian Henry (Bellvale, N.Y.). They will travel to Cocoa Beach, Fla., to enter the plane in the Aero Design Competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Each student is responsible for a major portion of the project, such as making theoretical calculations, analyzing the wings and tail, working with the controls, conducting computer analysis of the frame, and testing the engine.

“The project combines everything we’ve learned so far, especially fluid mechanics and aerodynamics,” says Nguyen, who has found it challenging to start from scratch. “It’s hard to get the first step going. If you have a previous project already made, there’s some ground to begin with, but this started from zero, so it took us a while to get the basics of what we need to do and what our goals are.”

The plane has one engine and four small battery-powered motors powering the ailerons that are attached to the wings and allow the aircraft to move vertically. The craft weighs 50 lbs and spans 80 inches from wingtip to wingtip. The cargo bay measures 300 cubic inches and the fuel tank has capacity of 12 ounces.

At the competition, the team will be evaluated on its design, which will be outlined in a written report, and on the performance of the plane, which will be controlled by a professional pilot. Each aircraft must demonstrate that it is capable of taking off within a 200-foot runway and successfully land while carrying a minimum payload of eight pounds. Increasing amounts of weight will be added to the plane at the competition to determine how much it can carry.

Three other senior design projects in the mechanical engineering department, which are also entered in competitions, are a Battlebot, mini-Baja off-road car, and a basic utility vehicle.

Categorized in: Academic News