More than 125 students, faculty and volunteers from across Kentucky recently participated in the 2011 Wing Design Competition sponsored by the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education, NASA Kentucky, and the University of Kentucky College of Engineering at RJ Corman Railroad Group’s Lucas Field in Nicholasville, Ky.
The students representing 12 high schools that comprise the KIAE assembled a remote-controlled airplane — without attaching the wing — from kits their teams received in January. The teams were instructed to design and build a wing for the aircraft, based on teaching modules on aerodynamics and stability written by faculty from the University of Kentucky College of Engineering. Each team also submitted a 5-10 page paper on the design of their wing.
The winning design was based on the amount of weight the aircraft could carry with respect to the weight of its wing. Teams experimented at the event by adding and subtracting payload through innovations such as water bottles filled with gravel and a weighted camera case placed on the bottom of the plane.
The team from Muhlenberg County High School took home first-place honors. Second place went to Taylor County High School and third place was awarded to Rowan County High School. Monroe County High School received awards for “Most Payload” and “Most Unique Wing,” while South Warren High School won the “Aviator’s Award” and Danville High School won “Best Color Scheme.”
“Students and facilitators that participated in the Wing Design Challenge exhibited a keen sense of purpose and persistence as they prepared and flew their aircraft with wings designed by students,” said Tim Smith, KIAE’s CEO. “The level of engagement was through the roof. Student learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) was demonstrated with great depth through the context of wing design.”
The event, sponsored by a grant from NASA’s Kentucky Space Grant Consortium, took place in coordination with UK’s College of Engineering and R.J. Corman Aviation Services. The event was modeled after the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ intercollegiate Design/Build/Fly Competition. For more information about the Wing Design Challenge, contact Dr. Tim Smith, CEO of the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 502-320-9490.