Team 1463 Members:
Rita Ezeugwu, aerospace engineering
Nestor Franco, aerospace engineering
Nicolle Hervey, aerospace engineering
Youra Jun, aerospace engineering
Sean Parker, aerospace engineering
Steven Rishor, aerospace engineering
Yiming Zhang, aerospace engineering
Sponsor: Rincon Research Corp.
The surveillance drone performed as expected – it could take off and land vertically and move through mountains and canyons. The team’s performance earned members the 2015 Ventana Award for Innovation in Engineering.
At times, however, success of the Rincon Research Corporation-sponsored mission – create a UAV that can take off vertically, fly to a location four miles away, cruise at an altitude of 500 feet in a half square mile, then return within 30 minutes – seemed impossible.
“We were having a problem with the center of gravity,” explained team leader Steven Rishor. “Whenever it took off, it would want to divert to the aft section, so it would go straight backwards.”
With a hybrid aircraft that combined the vertical takeoff and landing capabilities of an H-frame quadcopter and the flight characteristics of a fixed-wing aircraft, the team was finally in business.