KU News Release


Nov. 17, 2009
Contact: Jill Hummels, School of Engineering, (785) 864-2934

Aerospace engineering students win top honors in international contests

More Information

LAWRENCE — Aerospace engineering students from the University of Kansas earned first place and second place in an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics team design competition. In addition, two students earned the highest score and second highest score in an individual contest.


Leslie Smith, a doctoral student from Shawnee, left, and Emily Arnold, a doctoral student from Hillsboro, research light sport aircraft at the Zenith Aircraft factory in Mexico, Mo.

The annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics design competitions are the most well-established aerospace engineering design-related student competitions in the world. Students and teams from the KU aerospace engineering department have taken first, second or third place more than 50 times since the inception of the competition in 1968. Students from more than 60 universities spanning the globe have competed through the years.

Emily Arnold, a doctoral student from Hillsboro, and Leslie Smith, a doctoral student from Shawnee, won high score and second-highest score in this year’s individual contest. Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, associate professor of aerospace engineering, was their faculty adviser. Arnold won a $1,000 award.

“Both of these designs offer significant advantages over many of the aircraft that are on the open market today,” Barrett-Gonzalez said. “Emily’s airplane is one of the most elegant aircraft of this category that I have ever seen. She managed to successfully combine both rough-field performance with high-speed dash capability. She did a fantastic job in sculpting the airframe and generated what could be a commercially viable aircraft with a very sleek look.

“Leslie laid out a beautiful and very practical airplane. By calling out very advanced, low-cost manufacturing techniques, her aircraft, if produced, would substantially undercut many aircraft on the market today while offering substantially superior performance.”

Eleven KU students, all spring 2009 graduates, were on two teams that won first and second places in the 2008-09 Undergraduate Team Engine Design Competition, which required students to create a variable cycle engine for subsonic transport applications. The first-place team received a $2,500 award and the second-place won a $1,500 award.

The KU students used the Propulsion System Design course taught by Saeed Farokhi, professor of aerospace engineering, as a platform for their creative efforts. The competition sought out an original design for a propulsion system that incorporates new technologies that could optimize fuel consumption in all phases of flight while reducing noise and pollutant emissions.

“The two groups worked hard throughout the semester,” Farokhi said. “Their design was innovative, thorough and their report was well written. All design objectives were accomplished and design goals were exceeded.”

The first-place undergraduate team award was for KU’s “JACKT-524 Smart Variable-Cycle Propulsion System Design for Commercial Aircraft.” Second place went to KU’s undergraduate team design, “Janus.”

The winning KU students — all of whom earned bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering in spring 2009 — are listed below by hometown, current student status if applicable, parents’ names, high schools and award.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Leawood 66224
Travis R. Cravens, son of Ron and Cathy Cravens; Blue Valley West High School; first-place undergraduate team engine design.

From Mission Hills 66208
Andrew L. Wooten, doctoral student in bioengineering, son of Kent and Nanette Wooten; Shawnee Mission East High School; second-place undergraduate team engine design.

From Overland Park 66210
Jakob Andrew Bowden, son of Jeffery and Karen Bowden; Blue Valley Northwest High School; first-place undergraduate team engine design.

From Shawnee 66216
Leslie Ann Smith, doctoral student in aerospace engineering, daughter of Anita and Larry Smith; Shawnee Mission Northwest High School; second-highest score for Undergraduate Individual Aircraft Design for her design “Slyph" and second-place undergraduate team engine design.

MARION COUNTY
From Hillsboro 67063
Emily Julianna Arnold, doctoral student in aerospace engineering, daughter of Don and Gayla Ratzlaff; Hillsboro High School; highest score for Undergraduate Individual Aircraft Design for her design “Cooper.”

RILEY COUNTY
From Riley 66531
Kodi Elizabeth Ann Caster, daughter of Dewey Caster; Riley County High School; first-place undergraduate team engine design.

SEDGWICK COUNTY
From Wichita 67216
Thai Ho Nguyen, son of Dung Ho and Hoa Nguyen; Wichita High School South; second-place undergraduate team engine design.

SUMNER COUNTY
From Conway Springs 67031
Carl Joe Amerine, son of Clyde and Janet Amerine; Conway Springs High School; first-place undergraduate team engine design (team leader).

MISSOURI
From Kearney 64060
Matthew Alan Brown, son of Nona Pence; Liberty (Mo.) High School; second-place undergraduate team engine design.

NEBRASKA
From Omaha 68127
William P. Pflug, son of Thomas and Dorothy Pflug; Millard South High School; second-place undergraduate team engine design (team leader).

NEW MEXICO
From Albuquerque 87123
Adam Michael Saverino, son of Everett and Betty Saverino; Manzano High School; first-place undergraduate team engine design.

INDIA
From Mumbai, Maharashtra
Piyush Mukesh Mehta, doctoral student in aerospace engineering, son of Mukesh Kanaiyalal Mehta and Kalpana Mukesh Mehta; second-place undergraduate team engine design.


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