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Students win grants to develop sport aircraft, copter

FSspacegrants

A team of School of Engineering students is further developing a single-person aircraft pictured here. It was partially built by four 2012 graduates honored with the Dean’s Award for best senior design project. Shown are alumni Neil Rodrigues, Dr. Ryan Munden, John Burke, Kevin Richard, Clare McManus and Dr. Shahrokh Etemad.

Two groups of Fairfield University engineering students have been awarded $3,000 grants from the Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium to develop a recreational aircraft and a copter with a pick-up arm.

Both aircrafts are being created as part of the School of Engineering’s  senior design course, in which undergraduates majoring in different areas of engineering at the university come together to design a tool, vehicle or system that is needed in the marketplace but hasn’t been invented yet. The West Hartford-based Space Grant College Consortium is a NASA-supported Space Grant Consortium, and encourages research and education in space, aerospace science and engineering.

One student group is interested in developing a “quad copter,” a small, lightweight, single-person deployable device to aid in search and rescue and surveillance type missions, initially by the military but perhaps for police or civilian uses in the future. It will be for observation, carrying a couple of high definition video cameras, according to Dr. Ryan Munden, assistant professor of electrical engineering, faculty mentor to both student groups.

“A claw or gripper being added is to potentially drop off or pick up a small object to aid in that mission, like a walkie-talkie, or a beacon light,” he said.

The student team includes Bridgeport residents Niccolai Arenas and Choolwe Hachiita, and Ebuka Arinze of Maplewood, N.J. They will be receiving technical advice from American Unmanned Systems of Stamford. Goals are for the copter to be easy to assemble and small enough for a soldier to carry it in a backpack.

Another team of students is further developing a single-person aircraft partially built by four May, 2012 graduates honored with a Dean’s Award for best senior design project last year. Adam O’Neil of Bridgewater, N.J.; Michael Chambers, of Unionville,; and Kris McIntosh of Norwell, Mass., will continue to build it. The project is an attempt to meet the growing demand in the consumer aviation market for such a vehicle. By using a Yamaha motorcycle engine – and meeting quality and safety standards — the original team of students succeeded in fabricating this lightweight craft.

Although not yet ready to fly, it will be prepared by the new student team for FAA tests.

“These seniors are continuing the project by sizing the propellers, and modifying the structure,” said Dr. Shahrokh Etemad, chair of the mechanical engineering department, who is advisor on both student projects.

The senior design course is a chance for engineering students to shine. Students work in teams beginning in the fall, with a goal of either building or submitting advance designs for their respective idea. Projects in development include a helmet to measure the possibility of concussions suffered by, an aerodynamic nose piece for Formula F racecars, a training sensor to monitor athletes’ performance levels, an improved Formula F racecar chassis; a bearing radial/axial clearance measurement device for aerospace and a rainwater harvesting system that the Campus Sustainability Committee awarded a grant to develop.

For more information about Fairfield University’s School of Engineering, visit fairfield.edu/soe/index.html.

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