April 25 , 2008

The UT Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics scored impressive 2nd and 4th place wins against almost 70 other university teams in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Design-Build-Fly (DBF) Competition held in Wichita, Kansas 19-21 April, 2008. Holding down the #1 and #3 spots was Oklahoma State University. The UT HornWorks DBF Team under the able leadership of Ivan Kung, class of ’08 from Austin, accepted a $1500 2nd place cash award on behalf of UT. The Orange Bullet UT team led by Martyn Hunt, class of ’08 from The Woodlands and Aberdeen, Scotland took placed 4th in the competition. Since the DBF competition started in 1996, only 2 universities have had both their teams finish in the top four.

The UT DBF teams are made up entirely of undergraduates and are self organized and managed. Participation is voluntary. Team leads are elected and students are organized much like an industry design team. Typical organizational responsibilities include Aerodynamics, Propulsion, Structures, Vehicle Design and Manufacturing. The teams are advised by a student strategy team led by Odin Creel, class of ’08 from St. Augustine, FL.

The 2nd place Hornworks team consists of 23 students including 7 freshman, 5 sophomores, 3 juniors and 7 seniors. In addition to Team Lead Ivan Kung, key members of the leadership team include Stephan Greening, class of 08 from Austin, Daren Wang, class of 09 from Dallas, Jeff Chu class of 08  from Houston, Jason Fortner class of 09  from Cary, NC and Vishnu Jyothindran class of 10  from Austin. Other team members include Joel Chapa, Jason Lavine, Akash Gandhi, William Duong,  Charles Gilbreath, Elisa Gravis, Matthew Jones, Tausiq Ahmed, Garrett Mosely, Nathan Wu, Krystal Stewart, May Ann Li, Tarique Rahman, Alex Cheng, Charlotte Bryan, Craig Dorsey, and Paul Wedholm.

The 4th place Orange Bullet team consists of 14 students including 3 freshman, 4 sophomores, 1 junior and 5 seniors. In addition to Team Lead Martyn Hunt, key members of the leadership team include Ty Brockhoeft, class of ’08 from Austin, Brady Lotz, class of ‘08 from Grand Prairie and Matias Soto, class of ’08 from Chihuahua, Mexico. Other team members include David Vargas, Michael Skyler Lawson, Najek Haq, Justin Kizer, Andres Perez Segura, Barton Starnes, Jeremiah Bracy, Andrew Pritchard, Seve Rizo Patron and Joaquin Herrera.

Other top teams competing in 2008 were the University of Colorado – Boulder (#5), Wichita State University (#6), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (#7 and #19), University of Southern California (#8), Istanbul Technical University (#9) and Georgia Tech (#10).

The American Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) DBF competition sponsored by Cessna Aircraft Company and Raytheon Missile Systems is considered by most aircraft design professionals to be the premier international aircraft student design competition. Every year AIAA unveils a unique new design challenge against which the best and brightest of the world’s future aerospace engineers team up to not only design, but also build and fly a winning concept. The 2008 competition required that student teams design an electric power unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capable of carrying a payload of up to 14 partially filled half-liter water bottles or four US half-size clay bricks or various combinations thereof on two flights around a predetermined course. Equally challenging was another flight with no payload that had to be completed with an absolute minimum number of batteries. The combination of the two missions challenged the student teams to deal with important trade-offs involving heavy lift and high efficiency similar to those faced in the real world of air system design. Equally challenging was the fact that the design mission changes every year and every team has to make a fresh start, albeit based on lessons learned from previous years (another real world fact of life). 

UT Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics (ASE/EM) would like to express its appreciation to AIAA, Cessna, Raytheon and other DBF supporters for their important contributions to providing the next generation of Aerospace Engineers (worldwide) with a real world competitive (but constructive) environment focused on education that will help us all live in peace and prosperity.

The seed for success for the UT DBF program was planted by Dr. Mark Maughmer, a visiting professor from Penn State University. Invited to UT by Dr. Robert H. Bishop, ASE-EM Chairman, in 2006, Dr. Maughmer made a series of insightful recommendations for moving our DBF program forward. Among his recommendations was the importance of providing a hands-on four year aerospace design experience versus the traditional 4th year capstone design focus. With a shared commitment to provide opportunities for hands-on aerospace systems design experience, Dr. Bishop has put the full support of the department behind the DBF teams. Dr. Maughmer’s son Mark joined the UT staff shortly thereafter and has been helping the UT DBF team implement the concept ever since. Mark has an Aerospace Engineering degree from Penn State and has been a life-long sailplane and radio controlled model aircraft designer and builder.

Dr. Bishop, Dr. Chaput, and the Design, Build, Fly teams would like to extend their gratitude to the ASE alumni, external advisory committee members, and friends for their continual support. All the external assistance is absolutely invaluable.

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