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Novel Aeronautical Engineering Student Project: Developing Ultra-Light-Weight Aerial Vehicle Design and Proof of Concept

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Advanced Aerospace Student Projects

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1105.1 - 22.1105.11



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Paper Authors


Horacio Andrés Trucco

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Mr. Trucco was a Vice President and Principal Scientist at GASL, Inc., where he has been a full-time staff member since 1968 until 1994. He headed both the design and fabrication departments. His activities have involved projects related to analytical and experimental research in advanced propulsion systems and components, low and high speed combustion, air pollution and energy conservation. Mr. Trucco was responsible for design and fabrication of wind tunnel components such as air heaters, water-cooled nozzles, vacuum-producing air ejectors and scramjet engine models for both the NASA Langley Research Center and NASP related programs. In particular, Mr. Trucco has been involved in planning and designing a low speed premixed combustion test apparatus for NASA Lewis and premixed and diffusion type supersonic combustion tests for NASA Langley, the design and manufacture of a laser diffuser model for NASA Ames and an x-ray scanner for computerized tomography for an industrial client, the design of a transonic wind tunnel for NASA Langley and the development of industrial burner concepts to improve combustion efficiency and reduce emission levels. He has also been responsible for an analytical study of bypass turbojet engines with supersonic fans for NASA Lewis, for design of a turbofan engine simulator for wind tunnel testing for General Dynamics, for the analysis of an advanced helicopter propulsion concept for the Allison Division of General Motors, and for an experimental research in coal-water slurry fueled diesel engine.
Prior to 1968, Mr. Trucco was employed as Research Scientist by The Marquardt Corporation (1966 - 1967) where he was responsible for operation of their Hypersonic Hot-Shot Tunnel. From 1965 to 1966, he was employed by the Argentine Air Force as a scientist; he studied servo-controlled stagnation temperature probes that eliminate radiation error. From 1963 to 1965, he was employed by GASL where he participated in experimental hypersonic wake research, shock tunnel testing, engine performance prediction and scramjet inlet design. From 1955 to 1963, he was employed by the Argentine Air Force Aeronautical Institute and was initially responsible for research and testing on reciprocating aviation and automobile engines and later for operation of a subsonic and a supersonic wind tunnel. During the period of 1957 to 1963, Mr. Trucco supported a concurrent university teaching activity in thermodynamics, mechanisms and propulsion.
Mr. Trucco holds an Aeronautical Engineering degree (1955) and a Mechanical Engineering degree (1960), both from the National University of Cordoba, Argentina, and a M.S. Astronautics degree (1965) from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, New York (currently known as Polytechnic University).

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Martina Y. Trucco Hewlett-Packard Labs

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Martina Y. Trucco is responsible for research strategy and portfolio management at HP Labs, HP’s global corporate research lab. Previously, she worked in HP Labs’ Open Innovation Office and University Relations office, leading development of strategic university, commercial and government collaboration activities in the Latin America region, as well as global creative and marketing activities for the team. She is passionate about education and technology, and a believer in the power of partnerships between industry, academia and government to effect change in education and foster economic development.

Martina joined HP in 2004, after receiving her Master’s degree with honors in Digital Business Management from HEC Paris and Télécom Paris. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a concentration in Multinational Management from The Wharton School of Business, at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining HP, Martina worked in the e-business departments of Eli Lilly France and Louis Vuitton. She was a founding member of a start-up in Munich, Germany in 2000, specializing in Tablet PCs and mobile computing solutions and consulting. She is a member of the Board of Directors of ISTEC, the Ibero-American Science and Technology Education Consortium, and serves as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Caribbean Computing Center for Excellence.

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Novel Aeronautical Engineering Student Projects: Developing Ultra-Light-Weight Aerial Vehicle Design and Proof of ConceptFor students studying aeronautical engineering, one of the most exciting and motivatingcomponents of their curriculum is often their experience with novel aeronautical engineeringstudent projects. In this paper, a novel inflatable structure concept is suggested for the design andmanufacture of ultra-light-weight aerial vehicles, for example personal glider planes, human-powered planes, UAVs and outer-space devices.The structure is fully collapsible when deflated permitting simple storage and easytransportation. Unlike previously known pressurized aeronautical structures, the concept yieldsflush aerodynamic surfaces similar to those obtainable by rigid structures, therefore assuringundisturbed air flow. Wings can be constructed with twist and dihedral geometry. In addition, thestructure is capable of morphing during flight, permitting variation of its airfoil camber tooptimize vehicle performance according to needs. The structure consists of three basiccomponents, i.e., spar, rib and skin each inflated a different pressure. All components are formedfrom flexible thin lamina. The spars are tapered cylinders preferably reinforced with fibers. Ribsexactly reproduce wings and fuselage contour at its particular station. The skin rests on the ribs’outer perimeter. The structure exhibits very high strength-weight ratio so as to allow the designof a 10 meter wing span human-powered plane weighting about 10 kilogram. A pilot couldeffortlessly carry such ultra-light-weight plane over his or her shoulders while running for safetakeoff or controlled landing. Such truly unassisted and controllable human-powered flightwould symbolize achieving the long sought-after dream of flying almost like birds.This paper will present a brief description of the novel design described above, and will alsopresent alternatives for integration into various levels of aeronautical engineering curricula. Theauthors are keen on providing support for one or several engineering programs to incorporate thenovel student project, where there is interest and support from the faculty and institution.

Trucco, H. A., & Trucco, M. Y. (2011, June), Novel Aeronautical Engineering Student Project: Developing Ultra-Light-Weight Aerial Vehicle Design and Proof of Concept Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18342

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