Taking Flight

November 10, 2015

(L-R) Kieson Schuck, Zachary Spencer, Jared Parker, Brian Stafford, Kazimir Sheputa, Alex Pissios, Nicholas Moses, and Ryan Young

(L-R) Kieson Schuck, Zachary Spencer, Jared Parker, Brian Stafford, Kazimir Sheputa, Alex Pissios, Nicholas Moses, and Ryan Young

A team of eight Wentworth Institute of Technology students will travel to Kansas in April for an aerospace competition between some of the world’s top engineering schools.

The Cessna/Raytheon Missile Systems Design/Build/Fly Competition will feature teams from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, California Polytechnic State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Florida Institute of Technology, as well as international contestants from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, China, Egypt, Thailand, Qatar, India, and Poland. The fly-off will be held April 15 to 17 at the Cessna field in Wichita.

In preparation, the Wentworth students are building from scratch two radio-controlled airplanes, the largest of which has a 7.5-foot wingspan. The group will fly that plane and a smaller version in the competition, according to Haifa El-Sadi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and technology.

The Wentworth team members—all mechanical engineering students in the Class of 2017—are: Nicholas Moses, Alex Pissios, Brian Stafford, Kieson Schuck, Kazimir Sheputa, Zachary Spencer, Ryan Young, and Casey Gonsalves.

As part of an independent study, the students began working on the planes in September. The fuselages and wings are being designed and assembled. Motors, propellers and wheels—the only purchased parts—will be added in the coming weeks and months.

The students also have to submit a written design report, which, together with a flight score and “rated aircraft cost,” will comprise the overall team score for the competition.

Coordinated by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the event provides a real-world aircraft design experience for engineering students by giving them the opportunity to validate their analytic studies. According to a competition website, the goal is “a balanced design possessing good demonstrated flight handling qualities and practical and affordable manufacturing requirements.”

During the competition, each team will have to fly a larger craft for 10 minutes. Smaller planes—the Wentworth team’s has a 3.5-foot wingspan and weighs four pounds—must carry 32 ounces and fly for five minutes. The larger plane also has to fly while carrying the smaller one.

El-Sadi, who joined Wentworth’s faculty in 2011, helped to establish an AIAA branch at the Institute, and has been guiding the activities of the WITAERO club, whose members have been advising the Wentworth design/build/fly team.

She also developed an aerospace minor at Wentworth. Students who graduated with it in 2015 quickly landed jobs with leading companies including Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control, Advanced Torque Products, Raytheon, and QuEST Global.


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