Penn State takes third in vertical flight student competition

June 16, 2022

By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Autonomous Robotics Competition Club placed third in the Design-Build-Vertical Flight Student Competition, earning $500, the Vertical Flight Society announced on June 6. Ohio State won first place and $2,000, while the University of Maryland earned second and $1,000.

Hosted by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland, on June 1-2, the second-annual competition challenged nine student teams to build a remote-controlled, electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, otherwise known as a drone. The aircraft had to weigh less than 15 pounds and be able to carry two pounds of weight, as well as maintain sufficient endurance to fulfill the competition requirements.

Leading up to the competition, teams submitted preliminary design reports in December. Three schools received cash prizes for those reports, including Penn State, which received $750.

The competition sought to “encourage interest in unmanned aircraft technology, and small air vehicle design and fabrication,” according to the VFS’s press release, and provide an opportunity to develop hands-on skills and familiarization with electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles and advanced air mobility. By encouraging skill building and friendly competition, the society attempted to “prepare the next generation of engineers and leaders to push the limits of this exciting technology into the future,” according to the press release.

Members of the winning team include aerospace engineering doctoral students Vidullan Surendran, co-founder of the Autonomous Robotics Competition Club, Rachel Axten and Ghanghoon Paik.


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