Introduction to Engineering Class Demonstrate Hovercraft Projects

On May 3rd, students in Dr. Kelsen LaBerge’s Introduction to Engineering course demonstrated their final capstone projects. The 87 students in the course were divided into 18 teams to design, build, and fly a hovercraft that adheres to a specified budget.

Students worked in teams to come up with a preliminary design before giving a presentation of their work. Following approval, teams began building their hovercraft using balsa wood, propellers, and electronics such as servos, motors, and electronic speed controllers. After successfully constructing their hovercraft, teams were then tasked with flying their craft using remote controls.

Members of Team 6 with their competition-winning hovercraft

This semester's challenge was to build a hovercraft that could navigate an obstacle course consisting of a rectangular ring with a double-sided ramp in the center, as well as capturing and moving a golf ball. Teams scored points in three different ways: 1 point for a complete circuit around the ramp, 2 points for completely traversing across the ramp, and 2 points for maneuvering a golf ball into a hole at the top of the ramp.  Teams had a total of 4 minutes, provided that no structural or electronic elements of the craft became detached. The hovercraft was required to satisfy an additional aesthetic theme of "colors."

Team 6 (Ellis, Koromyslichenko, Lodhari, Rucker, and Sattar) won the competition with their NASA-themed craft by successfully completing 12 total laps and 8 successful ramp runs for a total of 28 points.  Runners- up (Teams 9 and 10) each successfully scored 9 points.

Hands-on projects and capstone projects are a major component of many courses offered by the College of Aeronautics and Engineering and allow students to see the connections between the concepts discussed in their classes and real-world situations engineering.

Dr. LaBerge highlights the value of this work, “There are several goals of the hands-on project for our Intro to Engineering project. The first and most important is to get students engaged and excited about engineering design and what they can do with it! It's an opportunity to expose students to the teamwork, communication, design, and problem-solving aspects of engineering. This project is aimed at providing exposure to the design process, but also at the perseverance, problem solving, and troubleshooting required to succeed. In the real world, products don't go directly from design to implementation! There is a test and evaluation aspect to engineering that is immensely important to the design process.”

Introduction to Engineering is offered in both Fall and Spring semesters, and covers engineering basics such as technical writing, problem solving, and engineering standards. Students in majors including Aerospace Engineering, Aeronautical Systems Engineering Technology, and Mechatronics Engineering take this course, usually early in their academic careers. The class has previously been taught by other College of Aeronautics and Engineering Faculty members, including Dr. Benjamin Kwasa, Dr. Syed Shihab, and Dr. Christina Bloebaum.

POSTED: Monday, May 20, 2024 02:35 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 12:48 PM