Out of 39 national and international teams that competed, the Titan UAV team placed 11th overall and finished fifth in the flight mission category in the Student Unmanned Aerial System contest at Webster Field in Maryland. It’s the best record for CSUF in three years of competing at this annual event. The Titan team, which ranked fourth among the U.S. entries, completed eight objectives during the flight mission and earned a $1,800 award.
“We saw many other teams have issues — from programming setup or mechanical failures in their aircraft,” said project lead James Wang ’15 (B.S. mechanical engineering). “All of our issues seemed relatively minor in comparison, as we completed the mission with no damage to the airframe. We also received a lot of positive comments from the judges on our preparation and organization under pressure.”
Following months of designing, building, testing and even setbacks, Titan engineers will see their unmanned aerial vehicle take flight June 17-21 in a collegiate competition in Maryland.
The team of student engineers will compete in the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Seafarer Chapter’s 13th annual Student Unmanned Air Systems Competition at Webster Field in St. Inigoes.
It’s all about taking what students have learned in the classroom and applying that knowledge to real-world projects, said James Wang, project lead and a 2015 mechanical engineering graduate. “This year, the team put in many hours of testing of ground-station setups and autonomous flight characteristics,” said Wang. “Working out the bugs in testing ahead of the competition greatly increases the chances of a competitive result.”
The goal of the competition is for an unmanned aerial system, also known as a drone, to autonomously fly a pre-programmed path, identify and classify targets, avoid virtual obstacles, as well as transmit live data and imagery to the ground station, Wang added. The competition is aimed at stimulating and fostering students’ interest in innovative technology and encouraging careers in the field.
Faced with a recent setback when the team’s plane, “The Balsa Buzzard,” was damaged during testing, the student engineers pressed on. Using a kit airplane and the same components, they rebuilt another autonomous aircraft, dubbed “Mr. Feeny,” to enter in the international competition.
The team, part of Titan Innovation, garnered sponsorships from businesses and industry to support their project and launched a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $1,000 for travel funds. Faculty advisers are Joseph Piacenza and Salvador Mayoral, both asssitant professors of mechanical engineering, and graduate student Jake Bailey, a Class of 2013 mechanical engineering graduate.
James Wang, 714-721-5328
Debra Cano Ramos