Holding the World on Our Shoulders

Greetings everyone,

For those who may not know, my name is Chandler Cairatti and I am the new President of the Missouri S&T Miner Aviation Design Team. I have been with the team since my freshman year here at S&T in 2017 and have had my share of experience in leading this amazing group. Starting as the Public Relations Coordinator for the 2018-2019 season, I took my first steps into being responsible for a large portion of the team and continued into the Vice Presidency for the 2019-2020 season. Now, I have the great honor of serving what has become a second family as its President.

Looking back on this year, it has certainly been one of the most historic years for Miner Aviation (MAV) since it’s inception in 1999 as the Advanced Aero Vehicle Group (AAVG). As one of the first five official design teams at Missouri S&T, we celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a very simple goal, aim higher and farther than we have before.

Our Aerodynamics / Stabilization & Control sub-team made huge steps in the design and analysis of the challenge set before us and tested over 100 different iterations of designs to find the best plane for our needs. They determined that the team would build its first-ever biplane. Not to be outdone, our Design & Manufacturing sub-team pushed their limits for iterative design processes and custom 2D & 3D composites to build one of our largest planes to date in record time. However, with many new manufacturing techniques and materials being used, we had to know if they would stand up to the test. Our Structures sub-team spent hours running Finite Element Analysis (FEA) simulations on pieces of our plane, custom hardware, as well as the entire vehicle itself and pushed them to their limits to learn and ensure that our plane will perform without breaking. Our Propulsion sub-team ensured this beast of a plane would take off by giving us over 30 lbs of thrust using power from two massive 8 cell LiPo batteries. Last but certainly not least, our Electronics sub-team installed countless servos and remote control hardware and over 100 feet of wiring to bring life to the plane.

It’s with great pleasure that I present to you, Atlas. At 6 ft 10 in with a 5 ft wingspan, this biplane is capable of 45 lbs of load, able to tow up to a 45 ft banner, and carry up to 80 passengers. Below are pictures of Atlas with some team decorated passengers!

This plane would not have been possible without our generous donors and this year, Miner Aviation set a record fundraising amount of $8800. We would like to give a very special thanks to one of our largest donors, retired Navy Commander Gary Henderson and his wife, retired Navy Lieutenant Commander Peggy Henderson. Not to be left out are our generous 33 crowdfunding donors who raised $3300 for the team. We would also like to thank the Missouri S&T Academy of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (AMAE), the Missouri Space Grant Consortium, Missouri S&T Student Council, MathWorks, and the Missouri S&T Student Design and Experiential Learning Center for their support.

Another important group that made this possible was our members. Pouring thousands of hours of labor in their free time over the last academic year, our members give us the ability to do what some might think impossible. Our leaders then turn around and put in almost twice as much work to secure funding, work and meeting space, travel accommodations, write proposals and reports, and pass on their wealth of knowledge to their younger peers on the team. Sometimes that even meant staying up till 7 am to finalize and submit our 60-page design report to the completion officials.

You can read our full report here.

Unfortunately, Atlas would not be able to fly over Wichita this year. Due to health concerns of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) made the extremely difficult decision to cancel the Design, Build, Fly Competition fly off that was suppose to happen last weekend. Nevertheless, a winner was to be decided! Over 140 teams from across the globe qualified for AIAA DBF (see where they are all from on the map) but only 101 successfully submitted a full design report. Of these 101 reports, AIAA rigorously graded them and selected a set of top 10 competitors to win a copy of the AIAA Aerospace Design Engineers Guide as well as cash prizes for the top 3 teams. I can proudly say the Miner Aviation achieved 7th place out of the 101 qualifying teams securing a position in the top 10! As a comparison to last year, we scored 15th out of 104 teams and 38th on the design report. Though actual performance at competition could have boosted our score, we are ecstatic at our improvement over last year. See the full results here.

As a long time member of this team, I can not be more proud of my second family. I’ve watched them grow so much in the last 3 years. A certain book passage helps describe what I see in them:

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible... it's yours.”

~Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Watching us overcome many obstacles and building one of the largest (by volume) planes in team history has been one of the highlights of my college career. Not even the terrible situation of a health crisis could slow us down. Now we set our focus on the future and rigorously prepare for next season. For the Miners in Flight will not be grounded anytime soon.

All the best,

Chandler Cairatti

Miner Aviation President