S&T Miner Aviation Design Team to head to competition in Arizona

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On March 28, 2019

Dragonfly aircraft

Students on S&T’s Miner Aviation team designed and built this aircraft, named Dragonfly.

In order for our team to make it to competition, we really on generous donors to support our team! We would invite everyone to look at our crowdfunding page: https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/Aviation/team/MAV to learn more and donate. Any amount is helpful and appreciated. Help us get to competition!

Miner Aviation will be going to compete in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Design, Build, Fly International Competition (DBF) from Wednesday, April 10th, to Monday, April 15th in Tucson, Arizona. The competition design requirements and challenges change every year (very similar to FIRST Robotics but with planes!). This year, we had to design an aircraft, The Dragonfly, that is very similar to an aircraft carrier jet. The aircraft must fit within a 3ft wide by 2ft high box while also being capable of taking off from a 10ft, 5 degree, ramp without touching the ground. For the team this meant designing a folding wing aircraft capable of “heavy” lift while also being extremely light weight. Our nearly 9 ft wing span is capable of folding in on itself while unfolding at the push of a button (a competition requirement) and, as always, is a completely custom airfoil (wing shape) designed specifically for this exact mission by our student members. The Dragonfly is also capable of carrying up to six “attack stores” or foam missiles which much be detachable and drop independently of one another. Our team tackled this issue using an arduino and custom code. A radome (circular, rotating radar dish) is also a required attachment and must be able to spin on command. All of our plane is completely custom built by student members in the Kummer Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC), with exception of laser cutting some of the wing structure for extreme accuracy. The team experiments with custom composite lay-ups made from layers of foam, plywood, or balsa wood and carbon fiber sheets in order to make a strong but lightweight aircraft. A new feature this year is an electric motor, as required by the competition, which the team has never used on a competition aircraft before. We were required to design and construct our own custom battery packs made from nickel-metal hydride power cells as the standard lithium power cells normally used for electric RC aircraft are restricted by competition rules due to danger of lithium fires due to a crash. The Dragonfly is our most customized composite aircraft the team has ever built and is able to take off in as little as six feet. We have accomplished much more in one year than in many years prior as a team and are very proud of our overall success to make it to competition. This is an entirely new competition for the team; historically flying in the SAE Aerospace Competition. We are excited to tackle this new challenge and will show the Arizona skyline what “Miners in Flight” are capable of.


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On March 28, 2019. Posted in Student Announcements, Student News