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The Warsaw Voice » Other » August 13, 2008
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Warsaw Aviation Students Land Award in Texas
August 13, 2008   
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A team of aerospace engineering students from the Warsaw University of Technology have designed and built a model aircraft that won third prize in this year's Aero Design West international collegiate competition in Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States. The Polish students are members of the Warsaw campus branch of the American Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

The Society of Automotive Engineers organizes the event, in which teams compete in various categories. The Polish team competed in the "micro class" category, which required a model airplane built to comply with strict parameters and capable of lifting as heavy a load as possible. All competing teams, of which there were 50, had to justify their designs before the judges prior to the main part of the competition.

MiNi to the max
The MiNi airplane designed by the Polish students weighs some 600 grams, has a wingspan of 1.5 m, and is capable of carrying a load of 0.8 kg. A team of 15 students built the micro-class airplane. The engine is 1 cc in capacity and delivers 0.27 hp. The plane was built with the utmost precision using the latest materials and technology.

The competitors' goal was to lift as large a load with as light a craft as possible, and the points were awarded based on these two criteria: as light a plane and as heavy a load as possible. The Polish students scored 61.19 points, whereas the winning team from the University of Minnesota scored 74.31 points. "Our airplane excelled in design and aerodynamics," says Dawid Mleczko, head of the Warsaw team.

SAE organizes student competitions in various fields every year to help young engineers gain new experiences and demonstrate their skills. The SAE branch at the Warsaw University of Technology brings together students from the Departments of Mechanics, Energy and Aviation. Prof. Tadeusz Rychter oversees the branch's activities.

The first Polish entry in the Aero Design competition was in 1991. In subsequent years Polish student teams consistently did better, coming in second in 1997 and 1998, and winning the competition in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

"The most difficult, and at the same time the most important, design feature is optimal aerodynamics," says Warsaw SAE branch member Micha³ Wysocki. "We design better and more refined craft with each year thanks to the university's specialist software, the extensive knowledge of our lecturers and our own experience gained from taking part in previous competitions."

The students build model aircraft with materials such as carbon and aramid fibers, including a strong, heat-resistant synthetic fiber known as Kevlar. They strive to minimize the weight of the airplane since every gram counts. The next phase is training and test flights, which is hard work for the whole team every day, over weekends and often at night for up to six months.

Wojciech Romanowicz
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