“Planes don’t’ fly without a tape” – WUT students’ air conquest

phot. SAE AeroDesign Warszawa/FB

They are able to build a plane – even from a pizza box. But it took them one year to get ready for the competition. They are the most titled team in the contest history. They are not going to rest on their laurels though. What is the recipe for success of the Interdepartmental Students Research Circle SAE AeroDesign, working at the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering?

This year’s SAE AeroDesign Competition was held from 21st to 23rd of April in Lakeland, Florida. Students of WUT have proved once again that they are one of the world’s leaders in designing and building unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2017 young engineers from WUT won in general classification in Regular class. They won also in Payload Fraction in Micro class. Our students were classified on the second position in general classification in Advanced class. They were placed in the third position in general classification in Micro class.

One year of preparation, one target

In general, the whole activity of the SAE AeroDesign Warsaw is focused on designing and constructing the machine for the annual contest in the USA.

- Works start at holiday when the dates of the next edition of the contest are announced – explains Michał Nowowiejski, Vice-president of the circle.  – This is the time, when we start our research, calculation, and projecting. Every three years the requirements change, which means that we have to design one of our constructions once again. This year changes were applied to the Regular class plane. Before changes, the task was to start, lift the possible heaviest load and land. This year we also had to plan passenger space in our construction. What is interesting – passengers and luggage were simulated by tennis balls. – We are expecting a lot of crushed tennis balls on the runway, during the competition – Michał Nowowiejski was joking before they even went to the USA.

Other constructions are of course brought to perfection. Some of them could have been damaged, so we have to fix them. – We cannot rest on our laurels – says Michał.  – All teams are improving their planes. It is funny how some teams try to copy our ideas. It’s hilarious because they don’t copy the essence of our project and we are not going to give it away.

SAE AeroDesign Warszawa/FB

Air conquest

At the begging of every year, planes are built. Test flights take place in early spring. Technical documentation is getting ready about one month before the competition. It’s a full-time job, especially when WUT students have to make all elements themselves. – We make even small components ourselves on the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering – underlines Michał.

Teams can build their planes in several classes: Micro, Regular or Advanced. Micro is a compact unmanned plane, easy to assemble, that can be handled by two persons. Regular is a big plane that should be able to transport as heavy weight as possible, without using fibrous composites. Advanced – is the most technically advanced class. A plane should be able to perform autonomous flight (without manual navigating). During the mission, a plane drops the humanitarian load on the target.

One week before the contest team arrives to improve construction and get ready to start. On the first day of the contest, the team should present detailed technical documentation, pass the plane inspection and come forth with all machines in front of jury consisted of professional constructors and plane designers.

After passing technical inspection the team can start a flight, that takes place on the airfield dedicated to model planes. 3 or 4 flights take place in every class. The team can get points for every task. The team with the largest number of points wins.

SAE AeroDesign Warszawa/FB

SAE AeroDesign Warszawa/FB

American dream

This year our students competed with 74 other teams from the all over the world, including the USA, India, China. Even though everybody wants to win, the atmosphere during the competition is right. 
- We have never had a situation that nobody wanted to help us when we needed it, e.g. tape. We all know that planes don’t fly without a tape – laughs Michał Nowowiejski.

WUT students don’t even count hours spent on the building their planes. – This is for sure such kind of experience that is worth to note at one’s resume, but it’s not the most important – says Michał.  – We could work and earn money instead but we prefer to sit from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the workshop until the porter will throw us out.

This year in the competition took part:  Kacper Dolata, Urszula Gołyska, Tomasz Gromski, Jakub Kazimierowski, Paweł Kusideł, Oskar Kwitek, Kamil Molenda, Michał Nowowiejski, Piotr Pacuszka, Tomasz Raczkowski, Igor Skawiński i Albert Świerczyński.

Monika Bukowska

Office for Promotion and Information