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Results from the University of Alaska Fairbanks' AIAA Student Club Design, Build, Fly Competition 2019

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Aerospace Student Projects, Engineering Design and Research

Tagged Division

Aerospace

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

12

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35155

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35155

Download Count

66

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Paper Authors

biography

Levi Purdy University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Although tech is my identity, I have spent most of my life on a remote Alaskan island. I am proud to have grown-up with a lifestyle more rustic than average, even for Alaska. The isolated environment gave me important project management skills as I regularly worked on projects including carpentry, plumbing, electrical wiring, system engineering, and programming.
At university I am continuing to refine and gain additional skillsets. Developing an advanced teamwork based skillset by expanding the Aerospace Club has given me a new perspective on team productivity and planning. Forging hard skills with classes and projects has encouraged a respect for the right-way to do things, in the process greatly increasing my efficiency and capabilities.

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biography

Michael C. Hatfield University of Alaska, Fairbanks

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Michael C. Hatfield is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Associate Director for Science & Education, Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration. He earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Ohio Northern University; an M.S. in electrical engineering from California State University Fresno, and a Ph.D. in Electrical/Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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Michael Radotich

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Brian C. Holst University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Abstract

(Student Paper)

For many undergraduate students, the application of the skills they have been practicing throughout their academic careers is limited to personal projects and small in-class endeavors. The AIAA Design-Build-Fly (DBF) Competition provides students with an opportunity to solve problems that they might not encounter in any other context, and in the process gain valuable experience designing and managing a complex, interdisciplinary, year-long project. Many aerospace graduates and engineers in the field cite DBF as a defining part of their undergraduate experience, both in the context of engineering and project management. In addition to its educational significance, DBF is also an invaluable resource for career-building. The connections made at the competition often last well into one’s career and can prove invaluable in the small world of aerospace engineering.

UNIVERSITY’s Student AIAA Chapter has steadily grown since its inception in 2015. Since then, the club’s size has steadily increased, as well as its notoriety on campus as a successful and engaging student group. The design team’s headquarters is located LOCATION on campus, making the design process visible to engineers and aspiring engineers alike. UNIVERSITY’s entries in the DBF competition have grown more and more competitive, qualifying for the Flight Demonstration every year, and steadily rising in final placing, finishing 23rd of 104 teams last year.

DBF Design. For 2019, the challenge was to design and build an aircraft replicating the role of a carrier-based AWACS aircraft, while also being capable of attack operations. The plane had to have folding wings and be able to roll through a 4x2 ft box, simulating storage below decks on a carrier. It also had to possess the ability to autonomously unfold and lock wings and take off from an 8-foot ramp. In addition, the plane had to have the capacity to carry at least 4 “attack stores” (foam footballs) and a removable radar dome that turned on its own. The pivot required to take a year’s worth of experience building last year’s ultra-light, extremely small aircraft, and direct it towards the design of a very different vehicle, was significant, but the team achieved it with a great outpouring of effort and teamwork.

Team Building. As shown in previous years, starting the effort with a focus on conceptual understanding dramatically increases incoming members’ ability to contribute ideas. The chapter’s goal is to foster intrinsic interest in members by helping them find personal success quickly, so they can feel encouraged to contribute later. Some of the key focus areas have included: (1) Providing additional flight simulators so members could get the tactile experience of flying a UAS; (2) Adding material resources to expand the introduction program, so every incoming member may design and fly their own aircraft before moving onto the actual competition design.

Lessons Learned. Throughout the DBF process many mistakes are made, but a continuous effort to learn from past errors keeps the process improving. Major improvements include: (1) Iterative. Increased focus has been placed on preflight tests, data capture, and post flight review; (2) Annual. Weekly management and complete team meetings are being reinforced with better organization coming from agendas and meeting notes published to an internal wiki. In addition to instituting a better meeting structure, the team’s organization structure was also revised.

Member Retention. One of the main areas the team fell short this year was in member retention. In prior years, the kickoff was marked by a team barbeque, and work was put into maintaining the club as a consistently fun place to be. The more serious and mass recruiting approach adopted this year alienated a larger percentage of members, but also attracted a larger number. For the coming year, the team is planning on redoubling efforts to both attract more members, retain, and train them.

Finally, the chapter is also looking into expanding scholastic and community involvement. Participating in university open houses has increased recognition, but this year was the clubs first involvement in a local engineering chapter conference and funding reception from an external sponsor. In addition to expanding external university relations the club has been building interdepartmental cooperation. Because of similar focuses the Robotic Mining team has collaborated on 3D printing technologies, and club members have begun building pilot training simulations for the FAA TEST SITE.

This paper will feature design and performance details of this year’s DBF aircraft, which have been captured already in the team’s final report and other documentation. The primary thrust of this paper will be delivered from the student participant/leadership perspective. One author is the team faculty mentor, who can provide additional continuity of experience to the team’s lessons learned and future direction.

Purdy, L., & Hatfield, M. C., & Radotich, M., & Holst, B. C. (2020, June), Results from the University of Alaska Fairbanks' AIAA Student Club Design, Build, Fly Competition 2019 Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35155

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015