Aerospace students finish second in helicopter contest

A team of Penn State aerospace engineering students place second in the 27th Annual American Helicopter Society (AHS) Student Design Competition.

Elise Baker, Andrew Brookhart, Scott Ford, Michael Jostes, Ryan Neely, Peter Romano and Christopher Wilbur, all recent graduates in aerospace engineering, placed second in the undergraduate design category. The team was led by faculty advisers Edward Smith, professor of aerospace engineering, and Robert Bill, a staff member with University Outreach, during the students preliminary and detail design courses.

The 2009 AHS Student Design Competition, sponsored by Agusta Westland, required students to design a non-conventional change to the rotor and driver system of an existing helicopter and in-service airframe. Additionally, the students were challenged to show an increase in range, speed and endurance performance of the rotorcraft.

"Our group decided to create what is known as a compound helicopter, with auxiliary lifting wings and an auxiliary propulsor at the rear of the helicopter. It also had a variable speed transmission design. We chose the name Pegasus because it's the name for the winged horse, which is also a 'compound' creation, with wings for added propulsion as well," Brookhart said.

Teams were required to submit digitally formatted final proposals of their design projects, which was then evaluated on technical content, organization and presentation, originality, application and feasibility.

The goal of the competition is to promote student interest in vertical flight technology and provide practical exercise for engineering students at accredited colleges and universities. The students are encouraged to be imaginative, yet remain practical in their designs. 

The Georgia Institute of Technology Blue Team placed first in the undergraduate category, the position that Penn State has held the previous three years. Both the first- and second-place teams were awarded a cash stipend.

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Last Updated September 15, 2009