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Aero Students Take Top International Honors

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2008-2009 AIAA Team Engine Design Contest winner
Aerospace engineering students from the University of Kansas earned first place and second place in an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) team design competition. In addition, two students earned the highest score and second-highest score in an AIAA individual contest. 

The AIAA offers several different design contests at both the undergraduate and graduate level for engineering students from around the world. Every year, the organization releases a request for proposal or RFP that outlines each contest’s objective and students must create a design that addresses the parameters. 

Eleven KU students, all May 2009 graduates, were on two teams that won first and second place in the 2008-2009 Undergraduate Team Engine Design Competition. The contest required students to create a variable cycle engine for subsonic transport applications. The students used the Propulsion System Design course taught by Aerospace Engineering Professor Saeed Farokhi as a platform for their creative efforts. The competition sought out an original design for a propulsion system that incorporates new technologies that could optimize fuel consumption in all phases of flight while reducing noise and pollutant emissions.

“The two groups worked hard throughout the semester and produced the winning reports for the AIAA 2008-2009 Team Engine Design Competition,” Farokhi said. “Their design was innovative, thorough and their report was well written. All aspects of RFP — Request for Proposal — were addressed. All design objectives were accomplished and design goals were exceeded.”

Students Emily Arnold and Leslie Smith won high score and second highest score, respectively, in AIAA’s Undergraduate Individual Aircraft Design Competition. Students taking part in an individual competition must work independently to design their submission. This year’s contest requested a new design for a light sport aircraft. Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering Ron Barrett-Gonzalez was their faculty adviser.

2008-2009 AIAA Highest Score Individual Aircraft Design Competition
"Both of these designs offer significant advantages over many of the aircraft that are on the open market today," Barrett-Gonzalez said. "Emily's airplane is one of the most elegant aircraft of this category that I have ever seen. She managed to successfully combine both rough-field performance with high-speed dash capability. She did a fantastic job in sculpting the airframe and generated what could be a commercially viable aircraft with a very sleek look. Leslie laid out a beautiful and very practical airplane. By calling out very advanced, low-cost manufacturing techniques, her aircraft, if produced, would substantially undercut many aircraft on the market today while offering substantially superior performance."

All students winning awards and honors graduated in May with bachelor’s degrees. Both Arnold and Smith are now pursuing doctorates in aerospace engineering at KU. The first place team will receive a $2,500 award and a certificate of achievement. The second place team receives a $1,500 award and a certificate. As the top scorer in the individual contest Arnold will receive $1,000 and a certificate. Smith will receive a certificate of honor.

The AIAA design competitions are the oldest, largest and most well-established aerospace engineering design-related student competitions in the world. Students and teams from the KU Aerospace Engineering Department have taken first, second or third place more than 56 times since the inception of the competition in 1968. Students from more than 60 universities spanning the globe have competed through the years.


KU students receiving honors are:

Undergraduate Team Engine Design

First place

"JACKT-524 Smart Variable-Cycle Propulsion System Design for Commercial Aircraft," University of Kansas, Professor Saeed Farokhi, faculty adviser

Team members

  • Carl Amerine, team leader

  • Jake Bowden

  • Kodi Caster

  • Travis Cravens

  • Adam Saverino


Second Place

"Janus" University of Kansas, Professor Saeed Farokhi, faculty adviser.

Team members

  • William Pflug, team leader

  • Matthew Brown

  • Piyush Mehta

  • Thai Nguyen

  • Leslie Smith

  • Lake Wooten

Undergraduate Individual Aircraft Design

Create a light sport aircraft

High Score*

"Cooper" by Emily Arnold; Associate Professor Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, faculty adviser

Second Highest Score*

“Slyph” by Leslie Smith; Associate Professor Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, faculty adviser

* AIAA awarded neither first nor second place for this contest, rather organizers scored the competition and determined the high score and second-highest score.

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