The SAE Aero Design Competition held in Van Nuys, California on April 24 - 26 was comprised of nearly 75 aero design teams from around the world, one of them being from The University of Akron. Janelle Archer, a software intern from the Connectivity Products Business Unit in Akron, Ohio, participated in the university's design team. The team's goal was to design a remote control airplane that feeds video signal back to its users while allowing it to air-drop a payload onto a target. The Akron team won seven different awards in the competition, the majority being for first place.
"The competition taught my team and I to work in stressful situations within a competitive environment. The competition was like a part-time job. Our team worked for this for over a year," stated Archer.
The competition featured teams throughout the United States, Canada, Poland, the United Kingdom, as well as many other countries. The first day of the event was dedicated to technical inspection and presentations, which would determine if the teams would move on to the next round. The final two days were set for the flying segment of the competition. Teams were allowed to register planes into three different classes: micro, regular, and advanced. The University of Akron SAE Aero team brought two planes; a cargo plane for the regular class and a humanitarian aid-drop plane for the advanced class. Both planes took nearly a year to complete due to testing and tweaking. Akron's team won first in drop accuracy, first in design report, first in presentation, and first overall in the advanced class. The team also won first in design report, third in highest payload, and third overall in the regular class.
"We got to compete against teams from all over the world allowing us to meet fascinating and intelligent people from various countries," said Archer.
Akron's air-drop plane was the leader of its class, winning first place out of 18 planes in four categories, which consisted of overall points, written design report, oral presentation, and drop accuracy. The drop accuracy portion required planes to drop a sandbag from a minimum of 100 feet into a set target. UA's Aero team dropped the sandbag closest to the target by seven feet and three inches, which put them in first place. This was an improvement from last year's seven feet and 11 inches, which also was Akron's SAE West Competition record.
The team missed the first round of the regular class because of issues with the cargo plane that left it in 12th place. However, the plane ascended from the struggles and ended up getting third out of 40 planes in overall points, third place in highest payload lifted, and first place for technical support. The cargo plane was able to carry a payload of 28.3 pounds while the plane itself only weighed 8.75 pounds. Overall, the UA Aero team was the leader out of every aero team at the competition from the U.S.