At the University of Colorado at Boulder I graduated Cum Laude in Aerospace Engineering in May 2008. My focus was on aircraft design and validation.
As a capstone project, I was the Systems Engineer for a team of nine to design, build, flight test, and validate a large UAV for the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). The requirements were to lift a 15 lb payload in the nose of the aircraft with a clear view of the ground, and to cruise 90 knots at an altitude of 10,000 ft for 45 minutes. The entire aircraft had to fit within a 7 ft by 7 ft box, weigh less than 55 lbs, and be operated by two ground crew members.
We designed and constructed the aircraft seen above. We used the Roskam design process and during the fall semester took the aircraft through a Systems Requirements Review, Preliminary Design Review, and Critical Design Review as well as conducting preliminary tests on some critical components of the aircraft; in our case the landing gear and landing gear mount. Over winter break, wind tunnel testing of the design was conducted in the University of Kansas wind tunnel and a canard was added to fix a trim problem that was discovered.
In the spring semester, we manufactured the aircraft using molds that we machined and a wet layup with vacuum bag technique. The systems integration was complicated, but progressed smoothly, other than the propeller. We had subcontracted the propeller design to a firm in Australia that contracted a firm in China for manufacturing and Chinese New Year caused a short delay. We were able to take the aircraft through low and high speed taxi testing before the end of the spring semester.
From our capstone project, I gained experience in designing and building a large UAV from the ground up. I also gained experience in advanced composite techniques and conducting Systems Engineering with a large team. We were required to prepare several presentations, reports, and professional component, sub-assembly, and assembly drawings. This provided a lot of experience in documentation, drafting, and configuration control.