Caroline Winters, daughter of Security Chief Jim Winters, was a member of the Rose-Hulman Design/Build/Fly Team that successfully competed in the annual Design/Build/Fly Competition sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Held in Tucson, Arizona, the competition required that all school team-made, remote-controlled airplane entries demonstrate practical and affordable construction, high performance, and good handling. The plane also had to fit into a carry-on-sized piece of luggage when dismantled and show flying maneuverability while carrying a steel bar and a number of golf balls on board.
The Rose-Hulman team met these challenging requirements and set their sights on finishing in the top 25% amongst the 80-plus teams that competed – something that wasn’t easy considering the tough competition of teams from such schools as MIT and Georgia Tech.
The team of seniors from Rose-Hulman took a different approach to the whole process this year and implemented a very aggressive schedule. The team started by finishing the prototype Zephyrus 3 months earlier than past teams, allowing time in the schedule for repeated testing.
“Because we completed the plane earlier than past teams, we had more time to test and improve the plane using test flights and experimental testing and validation procedures,” said Winters. “Repeated testing was the key.”
The Rose-Hulman team also overcame some challenges while competing, even managing to maneuver through a dust devil on one of their flight courses, but their hard work and planning paid off. They completed all three missions successfully – a first-time achievement for Rose-Hulman and one they hope to repeat.
Teams from all over the world as well as from top schools in the United States competed in the event. The competition offers students a hands-on way to accomplish a real-world project while gaining recognition in the aeronautics industry.