October 29, 2009
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
Arjun Menon, Sanju Sajan and Abhinav R., second-year students of B. Tech. (Mech.) from Amrita’s Coimbatore campus were awarded the first prize in the Aero Modeling Competition conducted as part of the Convention of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
The team, together with twelve other teams from across the nation, had cleared two preliminary rounds of contests. At the first round that was conducted at an engineering college in Thiruchengode in Tamil Nadu, they had participated in essay writing and quiz competitions.
Winners from this round had then competed in the second round where they had assembled a scaled model of an aircraft. Finally, all winning teams had gathered at Amrita’s Coimbatore campus for the third and final round.
At the finals, the teams were given scaled models of a vintage aircraft. They had to design radio controls to fly the models. Amrita’s team successfully flew the model, and was adjudged winner, after their technical presentation and report.
“Multiple forces act on an airplane,” the students explained in their presentation. “Lift is the force that overcomes the weight of the plane. Thrust is the force that is required to overcome the drag or the air resistance.”
The students further explained the radio controls they had designed. “A receiver is onboard the aircraft and the transmitter is remote. Whatever inputs are given from the transmitter are received by the receiver and acted upon by the appropriate servo motors.”
Three microservo motors respectively controlled the elevators, rudders and ailerons. Pushrods enabled the servo motors to control the respective control surfaces. These items were all provided to the students in a kit, but a solid understanding of the principles was essential in order to assemble it all together.
The students even suggested improvements in the design. “Brushless motors can be used instead of brush motors,” they stated, during their presentation. “Due to stability reasons, it is always preferable to use a high wing rather than a low wing,” they opined. Students had referred standard text books on aerodynamics and flight mechanics to make these recommendations.
How did they feel upon winning?
“It was a memorable experience. From the moment we got the kit in our hands to the flying part, we were faced with challenges we never even dreamt of. Through the process we had a glimpse of what engineering really is. We felt elevated to a whole new level of aero design and fabrication.”
The students received certificates, gift vouchers and mementos. “Our department seniors and our faculty extended much guidance,” they stated gratefully.