KU News Release

March 30, 2011
Contact: Cody Howard, School of Engineering, 785-864-2936

Aerospace engineering students land third place at design competition

More Information

LAWRENCE — A team of students from the University of Kansas School of Engineering brought home third place out of 34 teams in the SAE Aero Design West competition, held March 18 to 20 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Simply getting an aircraft to the competition, then ensuring it would land successfully, proved to be major engineering accomplishments for the KU team, known as Jayhawk Heavy Lift.

Team members had to pull a couple all-nighters to completely reconstruct their aircraft after it was destroyed in a crash just days before the start of the Aero Design West competition. During the competition, the KU team had a flight that lifted 36 pounds — unofficially, more than any other competing aircraft — but the flight was disqualified when landing gear snapped on touchdown. It was in the face of adversity that team leaders say the group really shined.

“I'm really proud of the efforts put forth by everyone on the team,” said John Pheatt, one of the pilots for the Jayhawk Heavy Lift team. “We’ve really overcome some hardships throughout the process. Saturday night we were up until the early morning hours making emergency repairs on the landing gear, doing the work in the outdoor hallway of the motel we were staying at.”

Jayhawk Heavy Lift managed two successful flights on Sunday after repairing the landing gear. The maximum weight successfully carried was 29.6 pounds in the team’s final run on Saturday. The group’s dedication, persistence and quick thinking are hallmarks of Jayhawk engineering.

“More than their raw performance, we can be very proud of their ‘can-do-never-say-die’ attitude, technical skill and a ton of work,” said Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, associate professor of aerospace engineering.

The team now shifts its focus to preparing the aircraft, known as Goed Genoeg II (which translates to “Good Enough” from Dutch), for the SAE Aero Design East competition, set for April 29 to May 1 in Marietta, Ga.

“We learned quite a bit about what we can do to better our design and presentation for the next competition,” Pheatt said. “I think the experience that the team has had at (Aero Design West) has motivated everyone to work even harder. I think with this knowledge and momentum, we will try to take first overall in Aero Design East.”

The team members — all seniors majoring in aerospace engineering — are listed below by hometown, parents’ names and high schools.

From Whitewater 67154
Chad Ryan Klaassen; Calvin and Joann Klaassen; Frederic Remington High School

From Lawrence 66047
Nathan Daniel Roush; Kevin and Donna Roush; Lawrence High School

Geoffrey T. Barnes; Haldane High School, Cold Spring, N.Y.

From Olathe 66062
Lawrence Anson Ditton III; Lawrence and Kathy Ditton; Olathe South High School

From Shawnee 66226
Tanner Jay Muckenthaler; Jay and Becky Muckenthaler; Mill Valley High School

From Natoma 67651
Connor P. McMullen; Karen McMullen Hageman; Plainville High School

From Wichita 67215
Jeffrey Alan Griswold; Douglas and Margaret Griswold; Goddard Senior High School

From Topeka 66618
Kyle Kratina Brehm; Doug and Sharon Brehm; Seaman High School

From Elverta 95626
John D. Pheatt; Mark and Nancy Pheatt; Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, Calif.

From Glendale 63122
Connor Edward Ireland; Sarah and Gordon Ireland; Desmet Jesuit High School, St. Louis, Mo.

From Amman
Zaki Hani Zaki Abu Ghazaleh; Hani Abu Ghazaleh

From Lima
Orlando Delpino Gonzales

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