TU students win big at Aircraft Design Competition

Students from the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering won the first prize at the international aircraft design competition during the 2015 Science and Technology Forum and Exposition (SciTech) in Florida, USA.

Organized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the event brought together scientists and engineers to share their state-of-the-art research and development advances. The final round of the AIAA international aircraft design competition also took place during the conference, where top students from several universities were invited to present their official entries. TU Delft bachelor’s student Sebastiaan van Schie was awarded the Individual Undergraduate Prize for his advanced pilot training aircraft design, the “Delft Advanced Transonic Trainer”, while master’s students Malcolm Brown, Koen van de Kerkhof, Raphael Klein, Martijn Roelofs, Niels Singh and Daan Westerveld won the Graduate Team Competition for their “Supersonic Multi-utility Aeroelastic Reconfigurable Test-bed” (SMART).

“The annual AIAA competitions are meant to challenge students from all over the world to work on some of the toughest design challenges in the aero-space industry,” said South African native Malcom Brown. “[Our goal] was to design a supersonic aircraft that will be used mainly for testing different wing and tail combinations.” Placing third during last year’s Individual Graduate Competition, Brown was very pleased with the team’s overall result. Indeed, this was the first time a European team has won the graduate section of the competition. “We are proud of our achievement,” Brown said. “It is the best reward for the substantial effort that we put into the design of the aircraft.” According to French teammate Raphael Klein (last year’s Individual Graduate winner), the project’s success would not have been possible without the team’s hard work. “I think there is a big difference between this competition, which was a group competition and the individual competition from last year,” Klein said. “This time, we had a pretty large team of six people, which helped us go much more into detail. We managed to perform a lot of additional tasks that would simply not have been possible as an individual.”

The team has since gone on to pursue individual internships at leading aerospace companies such as Airbus, Fokker and NLR. “No doubt, winning the competition definitely aided me in getting this position,” shared Brown, who currently works for Blackshape Aircraft’s conceptual design team in Italy. “After this, I am considering doing the next AIAA competition, finishing my thesis and then onwards and upwards.”

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