Engineers soar above competition

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By Jonathan Spicer

Aerospace engineering students flew the Ryerson S45A3 to the top of the Canadian field in an airplane competition this past summer.

Seven students paid their own way down to Palmdale, Calif., in June to compete with 42 other schools in the 2002 Aero Design Competition.

The Ryerson team submitted two planes, finishing fifth and thirteenth, and took the honour of top Canadian placement.

Seven other Canadian universities competed in the design and plane-building competition.

“The Ryerson S45A3 wing design provided the extra lift for Ryerson planes,” said fourth-year aerospace engineering student Jeffrey Dunning.

“We built our aircraft as strong as possible, as light as possible, and decided … how much weight we could put into it while having it take off and land at a given runway,” said Dunning, whose plane placed 13th. “It’s all about aerodynamics and configuration.”

Judging was based on a 25-page design report, a technical inspection and a presentation score where weight lifting was key.

“The more weight you lift, the higher score you get. But if you guess [the weight] within your predicted area, you get a higher score,” said Dunning.

The fifth-place plane — designed by Ken Bird, a Ryerson graduate from last year — weighed 2.5 kg and lifted 12.3 kg with a frame built almost entirely of balsa wood, an ultra-light material that breaks like styrofoam.

“I wanted to say that I built at least one plane before I left university,” said Dunning.

“The crowning point for me was seeing it fly because I’d never built anything that size before.”

Karanjeet Singh, a second-year aerospace engineering student who competed at the competition, also joined the team to get some real world experience.

“It was an opportunity to put all of my knowledge, interests and thoughts from the last year to work and compete with students at my level,” he said.

This year, Singh is co-captain of the aero design team. He oversees sponsorship, research and construction for the new plane design, a task that usually takes the whole year.

Last summer, students alone had to cover the cost of travelling to California. Because of that the team is looking for sponsorship much earlier for this year, said Singh.

This year’s first meeting on aero design is September 20 for interested students.

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