May 10, 2004

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Contact: Jill Hummels, School of Engineering, (785) 864-2934.

KU aerospace engineering students win award at national competition in Orlando

LAWRENCE -- A team of aerospace engineering students at the University of Kansas won a national award at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2004 Aero Design East Competition in April in Orlando, Fla.

The team of 12 students won the award for Best Design Report. Next the team will take its plane, dubbed Kahuna, to the 2004 Aero Design West Competition, June 18 through 20 in Fort Worth, Texas. The annual competition requires students to design, build and fly an unmanned, radio-controlled aircraft that can carry additional weight. The plane they construct must meet certain specifications, but students have a fair amount of creative and technical leeway.

"We had a good design," said team captain Bill Donovan, Osawatomie senior in aerospace engineering. "We had one of the lightest aircraft in the competition."

The team project is an entirely extracurricular activity at KU, and keeping the volunteer team members on schedule is one of the most challenging aspects of the competition. The KU students began the design process in summer 2003, Donovan said. Richard Hale, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, is faculty adviser to the team. By early December the students had finalized their design and were at work in KU's Aerospace Engineering Hangar constructing the first of two 12-foot wingspan planes they would take to competition. Although the first plane took three months to complete, the second took only three weeks to build, Donovan said.

Although the aircraft performed well in the flight portion of the competition, the team did not place in the top three overall.

The pilot, Lance Holly, a graduate student in aerospace engineering, was able to fly several clean rounds, and the team gained valuable data about the performance of the craft and its load-carrying ability.

The team has decided to change the landing gear to ensure smoother landings before heading to Texas. Crashes upon landing commonly take teams out of contention early in the flight competition.

Although many of the team members plan to graduate this month, Donovan, who will begin graduate study at KU, and Holly will be among those going to Texas. They hope to convince a few underclassmen to make the trip south and gain indispensable experience for next year's competition.

Students on the 2004 team, their hometowns, parents' names and high schools (when available) are:

From Olathe
Hai Chen, junior in aerospace engineering, son of Hualin and Zongyuan Cao Chen; Olathe East High School.

From Lansing
Austin McKune, senior in aerospace engineering, son of David and Susan McCune; Lansing High School.

From Osawatomie
Bill Donovan, senior in aerospace engineering, son of Bill and Coleen Donovan; Osawatomie Senior High School.

From Beloit
Luke Thompson, senior in aerospace engineering, son of Steve Thompson and Roxanne Thompson; Beloit Junior-Senior High School.

From Wamego
Kyle Hunt, senior in aerospace engineering, son of Steve and Kathy Hunt; Wamego High School.

From Topeka
Matt Landavazo, freshman in aerospace engineering, son of Armond and Rachel Landavazo; Shawnee Heights High School.

From North Little Rock
Todd White, senior in aerospace engineering, son of Thomas and Beth White; North Little Rock High School West Campus.

From Kansas City
Jessica Landes, master's degree student in aerospace engineering, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Landes; Lincoln College Prep Academy.

From Oak Grove
Megan MacDonald, senior in aerospace engineering, daughter of Kent and Karen Minton; Truman High School.

From Omaha
Lance Holly, master's degree student in aerospace engineering, son of Norman and Beth Holly; Omaha High School.
Joe Wasikowski, senior in aerospace engineering, son of Lawrence and Teresa Wasikowski; Ralston, Neb., High School.

From Nairobi
Jayesh Hirani, junior in aerospace engineering, son of Mavji Kanji and Rambai Marvji Hirani; S.C.LP Samaj School.


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