Originally published May 22, 2013

A team of 17 MSOE students designed, built and successfully flew an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for their senior design project this year.

The “Air Raiders’” hard work began in April 2012 when the 11 mechanical engineers, four computer engineers and two electrical engineers put their heads together to come up with a plan to compete in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aero Design Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. They began testing various engines for their aircraft and brainstorming ideas. In mid-September they received the competition guidelines and rules and their project began to take off. project this year.

In just 100 days, the team designed and built a work prototype aircraft according to competition specifications. Coincidentally, this is the same amount of time it took for the P51 Mustang to get into production during wartime, circa 1940.

The Air Raiders flew their prototype on January 19 with a hockey stick for the tail boom. The final version of the aircraft has a carbon tail, which is much thinner and lighter. In total, the plane weighs 8.5 pounds, has an 8-foot wingspan, is capable of carrying 15 pounds of cargo, and can drop an expellable 3 pound cargo at a target. The plane is equipped with GPS, a camera, altimeter and air speed indicator.

In March the team traveled to Fort Worth for the international competition, where they faced off against Virginia Tech, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, University of Western Ontario, Catolicha (Brazil), and others, including three teams from India. MSOE won the Second Place Overall Award in the Advanced Class, behind Missouri University of Science and Technology. The difference between first and second place was only 0.88 of a point! MSOE also took the Second Place Written Design Report Award and the Third Place Oral Presentation Award.

MSOE is an independent, non-profit university with about 2,500 students. MSOE offers 20 bachelor’s degrees and nine master’s degrees in engineering, business, mathematics and nursing. The university has a national academic reputation; longstanding ties to business and industry; dedicated professors with real-world experience; a 94% placement rate; and the highest average starting and mid-career salaries of any Wisconsin university and the highest average starting and mid-career salaries of any Wisconsin university according to PayScale Inc. MSOE graduates are well-rounded, technologically experienced and highly productive professionals and leaders.

The Air Raiders’ plane will be on display during MSOE’s annual Senior Project Day, Friday, May 24, from Noon to 3 p.m. in the Todd Wehr Auditorium, 1047 N. Broadway, along with more than 80 other senior projects and their student designers.