On a highway to success

Competent Designers

On a highway to success

MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology’s team ‘AeRobusta’ has returned from a successful trip to Van Nuys, California, after participating in the SAE Aero Design West 2013 and being ranked 18th in the competition.

This was the team’s debut entry in the regular class category competition. ‘AeRobusta’ has also been marked first among all Indian teams.

The SAE Aero Design competition is intended to provide undergraduate and graduate engineering students with a real-life engineering challenge. Known foremost to be a design competition, students find themselves performing trade studies, risk management, budget planning and making adjustments to arrive at a design solution that will optimally meet the mission requirements and stand out from the other designs.

This year’s challenge was to design a Regular Class aircraft, capable of achieving the highest payload while maintaining the minimum empty weight of the vehicle. The design criteria also required that the aircraft should demonstrate stable flights during the competition. The competition was divided into three parts — technical inspection, design presentation and the flight rounds. The competition included individual flight rounds of all qualified teams, both as an empty aircraft as well as a payload-carrying vehicle.

The achievements of the team were not just limited to this competition — they were also given the Systems Engineering Award, sponsored and managed by NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in partnership with SAE International. Talking about their experience, Pratik Rai, one of the team members, says, “I was responsible for the technical aspects of the project. The competition was based on six rounds of flights, of which we succeeded in five. The award from NASA that we got was based on the designs, work ethic, the plan and the work schedule of the team. We were also guided by our professor S V Prakash.”

Srikkanth Varadharajan, another teammate, who also played a role in the technical aspects of the design team, comments, “I had to take care of the structural design and the computer-aided drawing of the model.” He adds, “For a debut attempt, we did great. The fact remains that we lack resources. After seeing the designs there, it seems there’s a lot in the industry that we hope to be able to inculcate into our designs in the future.”

Soumalya Chakravorty, the team captain who was also in charge of documentation, says, “It was hard to approach different companies to help us out with the funds, as they were apprehensive. But the whole team worked together to work out those logistics and we were lucky to achieve what we did. Our team was one of the smallest in the whole competition, but we did our best.”  

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