AE Team Takes Home Top Honors at SAE

AE Team Takes Home Top Honors at SAE
Students from the ASDL stand  with their two airplanes at the SAE Competition in Lakeland Florida

PROUD ENGINEERS. Students from AE's Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL) are seen here in Lakeland, Florida, after their two entries in the 2018 SAE Aero East Design Build Fly  competition were named "Best Overall."
Check out more photos from the competition.

Lakeland, FL - Two aircraft designed by students from AE's Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL) have taken home the top honors in the 2018 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aero East Design/Build/Fly competition, held in Lakeland, Florida, March 9-11. This is the fourth straight year that Georgia Tech engineers have taken home the top trophy in two categories.

Carl Johnson

Carl Johnson

Competing against more than 40 teams, collectively, the ASDL's Micro entry, Buzz-in-a-Box and Advanced entry,  Buzz3d Bomb3r, each scored "Best Overall" in their respective categories. The team's Advanced Class entry also scored #2 for its written report, and a #1 ranking in the Humanitarian On-Target  Award category, which challenged the UAV pilots to drop a weighted object as close as possible to an on-land target.

"This is the fourth year that we got the best drop," said ASDL research engineer Carl Johnson, who coordinates student efforts in the seven months that lead up to the annual competition. "It's also the fourth year that we took home best overall in our categories. That's pretty astounding. All of the calculations were done by the students to make our work as accurate as possible. They did a great job."

The competition tasked teams to engineer planes that met certain design specification and which could perform certain tasks while being remotely piloted.


The exacting specifications for participation in the SAE competition make it one of the most attractive for up-and-coming engineers like Ogun Kargin, who was the wing design engineer on the Buzz-in-a-Box entry. The

Students grouped together with a first place plaque and with one of the winning aircraft

Winning Feels Good.

harder the challenge, the more intrigued the students became.

"We had to make sure it could be disassembled and fit into a medium flat-rate box," said Kargin. "So we used a flat plate air foil to maximize packing efficiency. There were other options, but none of them would be as easy to re-assemble. All of the entries were judged by how quickly they could be reassembled. We got ours together in 37 seconds."

Every decision the team made had to be strategic. For instance, the payload  for their micro-class entry-- PVC pipes -- was built right into the wing structure to save space in transport. That allowed them to carry more of it.

"We could get more points if we opted to carry more payload," said Martin Kurien, a fourth year AE undergraduate. "So, of course, we opted to carry as much as possible. In the end, our aircraft weighed 1.5 pounds. Our payload was 3.6 pounds."

Kurien, Kargin, and others involved in the months-long lead-up to the March competition estimated that they often spent as much as 20 hours a week on their entries, designing the optimal shaped payload, writing the software that calculated the accuracy of their drops , and using Matlab to create graphical user interfaces that would guide the pilot and help to determine the best time to drop.

"We did everything we could. No compromises." said Kurien. who is currently interning as a composite material design engineer at Area I in Kennesaw. " We wanted to win,"

ASDL students standing in front of Tech Tower with their airplanes - Buzz3d Bom3r and Buzz-in-a-Box

A Swarm of Techies. As happy as this team of Georgia Tech engineers was to be home, they were also thrilled to see some familiar faces at the SAE Competition in Florida. AE alumni David Gaitan  '16, Viktor Hromyk, Tom Neuman '16, David Moriniti  '17, Adam Thomas  '16, and Mustafa Kothawala '15  stopped by to cheer on their alma mater


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