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Engineering Teams in Countdown to Competition

Student-Designed Race Car and Unmanned Aircraft Face Tough Odds in National Tests

June 12, 2013

Michael Stragier

May grad Michael Stragier and his teammates are putting the final touches on their unmanned aircraft this week for a collegiate competition June 19-22 in Maryland.

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Two student teams from the College of Engineering and Computer Science are gearing up this week to fine-tune their yearlong projects — a formula-style race car and unmanned airplane — to vie in national competitions June 19-22.

Members of the Titan VI race car team are working against the clock to finish their new vehicle for the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) competition at Lincoln Airpark in Lincoln, Neb.

A second student engineering team, designed and built the first-ever completely autonomous Titan Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for entry in the Student Unmanned Air Systems Competition. The contest, which focuses on engaging students in a challenging mission, will be held at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Webster Field in Maryland. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International sponsors the event.

Team members, most of them May graduates, applied engineering skills learned in the classroom to their real-world senior projects. Both teams are looking forward to demonstrating their engineering expertise at the competitions, which attract university teams from across the U.S. and the world. 

To make their projects possible, the collegiate engineers also rallied major support from local businesses and industry, with companies contributing cash gifts and in-kind donations. Major sponsors include: Raytheon, Boeing Co., Disneyland Resorts, Cristek Interconnects Inc. PTM&W Industries Inc., Swift Engineering Inc., Coastal Enterprises Inc., Cytec Industries Inc. and Aerofoam Industries, among others.

Titan VI Ready to Race 

SAE International’s student design competition attracts more than 80 teams from universities worldwide. This year’s CSUF team consists of 15 core members, plus assistance from underclassmen, and from the Society of Automotive Engineers and American Society of Mechanical Engineers student chapters. Business students also created a business plan to simulate real-world production of the Titan VI race car.

The team designed and built a new car to race, improving on last year’s vehicle, Titan V, which finished 31st overall out of 84 teams.

“The primary goals for this year’s team are to complete all dynamic events without any breakdowns — and to place higher than last year’s CSUF Formula SAE team,” said Michael Gustafson, team captain and SAE chapter president. “We’ll see if all of our hard work pays off.”

Titan UAV Team to Fly High

The six-member Titan UAV Team built Project ORCA (operational reconnaissance and canvassing aircraft), which has the ability to locate and recognize targets using real-time processing. The custom aircraft was built to complete a specific 30-minute autonomous aerial humanitarian aide mission for the competition, said Dianna Jones, team captain. A May mechanical engineering grad, Jones landed a job at Northrup Grumman Corp. as a result of her work on the project.

The competition requires the design, integration and demonstration of a system capable of conducting air operations, which includes autonomous flight, navigation of a specified course and use of onboard payload sensors. The event is held to stimulate and foster interest in unmanned air systems and technologies and careers. The Titans, all May grads, will face 35 other teams and are looking forward to CSUF competing in the event for the first time.

“We chose this project because we wanted to do something that no students have done before. We hope to impress others with our engineering skills and make a good showing,” Jones said.

Mechanical engineering grad Michael Stragier added that no matter the outcome, “it’s been a great learning experience because it’s made us all better engineers.”

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By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  Academics & Research