UC Irvine’s engineering students placed second at the 18th annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation Design/Build/Fly (DBF) competition in Wichita, Kansas, in April. This is UCI’s third straight top-two finish.
“We were confident that we would achieve a great overall result, and the team did not disappoint. Each member of the team put an incredible amount of time and effort into this project. It was truly an amazing experience working with everyone,” says Lawrence Ng, a senior aerospace engineering student and UCI’s DBF project manager.
A partnership between the AIAA Foundation, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Raytheon Missile Systems, the annual DBF competition provides students an opportunity to design and build a radio-controlled aircraft to perform specific missions. Participants who complete a letter of intent and submit a report on time are invited to bring their plane to a central location for a fly off. Winners are determined by a combination of their report score and their flight mission score.
This year’s assignment was a simulation of a backcountry, rough field, bush plane with three missions: ground taxi over a rough field; maximum load; and a timed emergency medical mission (carrying two pretend patients and nurses). The competition was fierce, with 80 universities participating.
Most of UCI’s 31-member team drove to Wichita for the competition. UCI’s report scored high, and the Anteaters entered the flight portion ranked third. UCI was neck and neck with USC; they had similar flight performances. It ultimately came down to the weight of the plane, and USC’s was around 1 pound lighter, giving it the edge to take first place. The score of each mission is divided by the plane’s weight when empty.
“More and more, schools are taking this seriously,” says Robert Liebeck, an adjunct professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering and DBF faculty advisor. “I am proud as ever of UCI's second place finish. I believe a key to our success is starting with freshman members who then continue to mature in knowledge and experience such that they become formidable in their junior and senior years. The viability of this strategy is evidenced by the fact that for the past three years UCI finished second, first and second. We have a very special group of students with remarkable capability and dedication.”
“It’s been a long year of dedication to DBF, and I feel honored to work with this group of engineers who always stayed on track,” says Ravi Patel, a senior mechanical engineering student and operations engineer for the DBF team. “Each member has learned a great deal about design engineering and manufacturing methods.”
2014 DBF Team
Faculty advisor - Professor Robert Liebeck
Graduate Student Advisors: Kamil Samaan, Giuseppe Venneri, Colin Sledge
Students: Lawrence Ng, Paul Parcell, Ravi Patel, Kunal Deshpande, Javier Ruiz, Bruno Vu, Charles Poblete, Andrew Simjian, Loc Cao, Wayne Chan, Tandy Li, Jessica Chean, Bruno Vu, Saam Shahrokhi, George Ahumada, Andrew Dieterich, Kevin Kho, Fabio Bendana, (Mai) Laliphat Kositchaimongkol, Justin Kerr, Karla Marron, Daniel Grant, Hugo Banh, Drew Lafferty, Omar Franco, Tim Kheng, Jocelyn Pedroza, An-Hong Do, Jonathan Perez-Bernal, Violeta Ismailyan, Michael Lau