A Unique Start in Unique Times

Photo ©2020 Tom Wagner/S&T Design Center, Missouri S&T Student Design Center, (SDELC), Exterior Architectural night photo of building extension with signage.

Welcome to the most unique year in Miner Aviation history. The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped since our competition season closed back in April and it does not seem to be ending anytime soon. However, a pandemic will not slow down the Miners in Flight. With masks on, standing 6 feet apart, and temperatures checked, the team is back in action and ready to get our hands dirty.

Summer Shenanigans

Not waiting for the official semester start date, MAV stepped up with the rest of the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC) to host an online recruitment event to not only welcome new students but recruit them to our team. We carried this energy and excitement about our team to Opening Week where the team participated in Miner Rama, an outdoor fair that features all of the clubs and teams Missouri S&T has to offer. The team leadership, while using a lot of energy on the present, also spent time thinking about the future. With the uncertainty of competition taking place or not due to the pandemic, MAV has come up with an official contingency plan to prepare for worst-case scenarios to ensure our members get the hands-on experience that you will not find at any other University.

Expanding and Improving

Miner Aviation is not the only group to hit the ground running this year. The SDELC started the semester with a grand opening of the new expansion to the Kummer Student Design Center. Adding over 8000 square feet, the Design Center has doubled in size. The new addition includes expanded storage and manufacturing space, an expanded machine shop, a new electronics lab, and the first chemical lab at the SDELC. This new space allows all the 19+ design teams to come together under the same roof with everyone getting their own space. MAV is excited to not only have some breathing room but also get to work next to all of our fellow design teams.

Take a look at the dedication of the new expansion here!

Getting Started

Miner Aviation will be competing in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Design Build Fly Competition (AIAA DBF) for our third consecutive year. This year we will be traveling back out to the beautiful Tucson desert. Our new rules were released a week earlier than normal and we have been feverishly working on our new design. The challenge this year will require us to build a sensor towing reconnaissance aircraft that is similar to some of the specifications of The Boeing E-4B. We have to have a towable sensor unit that can be deployed and retracted mid-flight as well as fly a cargo mission where our fuselage will be packed with as many of our sensors (or simulation boxes) as possible. The sensor must have at least three lights visible from the ground that flash in a unique pattern and stay aerodynamically stable in flight. A ground mission will test how fast a team representative can pack our aircraft for its cargo mission. The standard first mission to test our aircraft’s flight capability will also be performed. To read the full specifications of the challenge this year, visit the official AIAA DBF webpage to read the entire ruleset.

Every one of our sub-teams has been hard at work taking on this new challenge. The Aerodynamics & Stability/Control Sub-team has been writing and testing a custom optimization code in MATLAB to design the most competitive aircraft configuration for this competition. The Design and Manufacturing Sub-team has been working many hours in the shop (under strict COVID 19 guidelines) teaching our new members the advanced manufacturing techniques our team implements while also testing some new composite manufacturing practices used by teams like Mars Rover when they construct their rover body. The group is also teaching new recruits how to use SolidWorks to be ready for drafting our designs. The Dynamic Systems Sub-team has been constructing a new field computer to be used for flight testing data collection and analysis as well as preliminary designs for the sensor and sensor deployment subsystems. The new field computer has affectionately been dubbed the “nuclear football” since it is being housed in a robust briefcase structure. The Propulsion Sub-team has spent their time preparing for estimated thrust numbers needed by the Aero Sub-team to get our aircraft in flying by categorizing and inventorying the team’s prop collection. They are also teaching new recruits about propulsion and motor requirements our team usually deals with. Last but certainly not least, the Structures Sub-team is designing new tests for the team to use on our materials. These new tests will follow strict ASTM standards to reflect the level of testing done in the industry and provide the best data for our D&M Sub-team to design our structures and fuselage with. All of the sub-teams are working with our Chief Engineer to stay on schedule and get our competition proposal together by October 31st!

Not to be overshadowed by our engineering group, the administration group has been hard at work organizing our funding sources for the year. With a total budget need of almost $30,000, we have a tough challenge ahead of us. The good news is, we have secured close to half of that amount already! With our success so far, we are hoping to bolster the team with funds for some new equipment and tools that are desperately needed. Our PR Sub-team also recently dropped some new team merchandise. If you want a t-shirt, polo, hat, sweatshirt, or poster, fill out an order form today. We also recently launched a Redbubble account where you can purchase stickers, magnets, cups, and more than have them shipped directly to you! Visit our page to start shopping!

The team has wasted no time doing what we love and look forward to every year. Our sub-teams are hard at work and putting our bright young minds to the test. The administration group is making a strong presence to potential donors and supporters to get the funding we need. Our members are ready to put in the work needed to face teams from around the world. Though the unique challenge of a global pandemic is something a student design team has never faced before, Miner Aviation stands strong and ready to fly.

I’ll end with a quote from a fantastic author that I felt not only summarized our approach to this year but is an excellent thing to focus on during this unique time:

"When it rains, look for rainbows; when it's dark, look for stars." — Oscar Wilde

 

Best regards,

Chandler Cairatti

Miner Aviation President

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *