SAE Aero Design

Team Picture at Aero Design West 2010

Kettering University's 2010 Aero Design team, at the competition in Van Nuys, California, on March 6-8. From left to right, the pictured members are Pirow Bekker, Jacob Crabill, David Tarlau, Margaret Walch, Dwight Linen, Josh Stanton, and Ryan Quellet.



Kettering University currently has a team which sucessfully designed and built a plane for the 2010 Aero Design-West competition in California, held on March 5-7. The team is now beginning to prepare for the 2011 competition. The Aero Design competition has three different classes:

1) Regular Class, the class that Kettering is competing in, has the most design constraints, and is therefore more accessible to the fledgling design team. The goal is to lift as much total weight as possible within the given design constraints, which include a specific engine, overall size limitations, and material restrictions.

2) Advanced Class, which is very similar to Regular Class, has much less design constraints and therefore a larger set of possible solutions to the challenge. The goal is once again to lift as much weight as possible, with an added requirement of adding a data acquisition system to the plane.

3) Micro class, which is scored based on weight percentage lifted rather than total weight. The primary design constraint is that the entire plane, radio, battery, etc. must fit into a single small case of predetermined size.

From the SAE Aero Desgin web site:

What is Aero Design?
The Aero Design competition is intended to provide undergraduate and graduate engineering students with a real-life engineering exercise. The competition has been designed to provide exposure to the kinds of situations that engineers face in the real work environment. First and foremost a design competition, studetnts will find themselves performing trade studies and making compromises to arrive at a design solution that will optimally meet the mission requirements while still conforming to the configuration limitations.

The importance of interpersonal communication skills is sometimes overlooked, yet both written and oral communication skills are vital in the engineering workplace. To help teams develop these skills, a high percentage of a team's score is devoted to the design report and the oral presentation required in the competition.

Aero Design features three classes of competition—Regular, Open, and Micro. Regular Class is intended to be simpler than Open Class, and therefore more accessible to the fledgling team. Open Class is intended to be less restrictive than Regular Class, thereby opening a larger potential solution set. Its lack of restriction allows teams to pursue more complex vehicle configurations, thereby encouraging greater creativity in satisfying the mission requirements. Micro Class teams are required to make trades between two potentially conflicting requirements, carrying the highest payload fraction possible, while simultaneously pursuing the lowest empty weight possible.

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For up-to-date info on the 2011 Aero Design Team, click here.

To see last year's 2010 Team Log, click here.

For Pictures, click here.

Team Members

David Tarlau, Team Captain -- Mechanical Engineering

Jacob Crabill -- Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Physics

John Haase -- Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Physics

Ryan Quellet -- Mechanical Engineering

Margaret Walch Mechanical Engineering

Pirow Bekker -- Business Administration

Josh Stanton -- Mechanical Engineering

Racquelle Lovelace-- Mechanical Engineering


The Kettering Aero Design Team would like to extend a special thanks to the following:

Mark Freeland of Retro RC, who not only completed our laser cutting in a very short time, but did a great job at it and managed to give us some advice on RC aircraft in the process. Thanks, Mark!


Riders Hobby Shop, and their excellent staff, who not only gave us a few discounts but gave us plenty of invaluble advice (and good luck wishes!) along the way. Thanks, guys!