Recent aerospace engineering graduates won three international design competitions sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the professional organization for aerospace engineers.
In the AIAA Graduate Missile Systems Competition, separate Cal Poly Pomona teams placed first and third. Their mission was to design a vehicle to replace the United States’ aging Minuteman strategic nuclear weapon delivery system.
During development, the teams received feedback from engineers at the Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems facility (formerly Orbital ATK ) in Chandler, AZ, and presented their work at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Center in El Segundo, in front of judges from the Air Force and the Aerospace Corporation. Their advisor was Don Edberg, professor of aerospace engineering, who used his newly completed Launch Vehicle Design textbook for the class.
In the AIAA Space System Design Competition, a team of Broncos captured first place for their design of a crew/cargo vehicle to travel between a lunar space station and the surface of the moon. The field of 13 teams included Sharif University of Technology (Iran) and Istanbul Technical University (Turkey). These teams presented their work at Northrop Grumman’s Redondo Beach facility and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
A Cal Poly Pomona team also won the AIAA Undergraduate Aircraft Design Competition, in which it was tasked with designing a short-haul taxi aircraft. The team advised by Lecturer Grant Carichner, came in ahead of the University of Kansas and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The students were evaluated by engineers at the world-famous Lockheed Martin “Skunk Works” design bureau in Palmdale, CA, and at Northrop Grumman in El Segundo.
The Cal Poly Pomona Aerospace Engineering Department currently teaches three capstone senior engineering design classes: aircraft design, spacecraft design, and launch vehicle design. In each of those courses, students are required to form teams and enter engineering design competitions, where they respond to a Request for Proposal from an outside organization, outlining a “need” for the development of a vehicle or system to accomplish a specific task.
“The process is very similar to that followed in the industry,” said Edberg. “The competitions provide invaluable experience in real engineering, practice creating and presenting technical briefings, and exposure to potential employers.”