Aerospace students win first place in design contest

August 23, 2010

A team of Penn State aerospace engineering students was recently announced as the first-place undergraduate winner of the 27th annual American Helicopter Society (AHS) International/Industry Student Design Competition.

The contest challenged students to design a multi-lift system involving two rotorcraft where the two vehicles could lift 75 percent more payload than either aircraft alone. The aircraft must have enough fuel aboard at takeoff to cover a delivery distance of 100 nautical miles, have a mid-point hover capability of 10 minutes and return without the payload.

The Penn State entry, "Special Purpose Attachment for Rotorcraft Cooperative Lift (SPARCL)," was developed as part of the AERSP 402 Aircraft Design capstone courses during the 2009-10 academic year.

The team included Greg Beres, Alex Carrasquillo, Austin Cornell, Lahiru Fernando, James Krouse, Jake Marsh, Edwin Reynolds and Emily Wallis. Course faculty included Joseph Horn, associate professor of aerospace engineering; Robert Bill, research associate; and Edward Smith, professor of aerospace engineering.

The annual AHS contest features a vertical lift aircraft design challenge that meets specified requirements.

Winning teams receive a cash stipend and two members of the winning team are invited to the AHS annual forum and technology display to present their proposal. The winning team's members also receive one-day complimentary registration to the forum, which is the vertical flight industry's principal technical event.

The competition begins each year in August with AHS issuing a new challenge and a request for proposals. Teams then begin working on their entries throughout the academic year, submitting their final project proposals and executive summaries the following June for judging. Winners are then notified in late July or early August.

This year's corporate sponsor was Boeing. Boeing, Bell Helicopter Textron, Sikorsky Aircraft, Eurocopter and AgustaWestland serve as rotating sponsors of the event.

More information on the contest, along with complete results, can be found on the AHS website at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 23, 2010