The SAE Aero Design West Competition consists of three different classes; micro, regular and advanced classes. Universities from across the world are eligible to attend. Throughout the competition, teams are required to design and build remote controlled aircrafts with hopes of the aircraft performing better than their competitors. Performance is observed by seeing which aircraft can carry the most passengers and weight. Passengers and weight are measured through inanimate objects such as tennis balls and metal blocks. The competition is set into three parts; written design report, an oral presentation, and the flying portion.
“Our team had spent hundreds of hours designing, building, and twerking every aspect of the aircraft,” said team member, Alex Ruble.
Led by their faculty advisor, Mark Fellows, CEAS AEEM adjunct professor, the 2017 teams took home medals for all places along with five plaques. The Aerocats regular team dominated in their class, placing 1st overall (out of 34 teams), 1st in flying, 1st in heaviest payload lifted, 2nd in design report, and 3rd in oral presentation. The Aerocats micro team placed 2nd in the design report and finished 14th (out of 24) overall.
Alex stated that their team of fresh minds led them to their win, “The SAE committee vary the rules slightly every few years. With many members returning on other teams, their approaches probably remain the same, with slight adjustments for the rule change. Out team had the distinct advantage of having a fresh mindset and a desire to win from the start.”
“It felt fantastic,” Alex answered in response to how it felt to win first place, “Hearing our names announced for every category and then finally as the overall winner capped off not only an extremely challenging competition, but have us the affirmation that, believe it or not, we actually did know what we were doing.”
The team members were James Brink, Vince Dechellis, Jessica Glass, Seth Holsinger, Matt Kitchen, Oliver Livingston, Brandon Miller, Dylan Pastovich, Cory Patterson, Lynn Pickering, Alex Ruble, Eric Shelton, and Santiago Panzardi as the pilot. Pickering is the only freshman amongst the team of seniors.
“Everything from naming our team (Bearcat Airlines), to our final flight in Texas was a group effort,” said Alex, “Without everyone stepping up time and time again, there would have been much different results. I am so proud of our team.”