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Aerospace engineering students take 1st place in Hong Kong competition

Monday, March 21, 2016

LAWRENCE — A team of graduate students from the University of Kansas School of Engineering took first place at an international design competition held late last year in Hong Kong.

The team, composed entirely of aerospace engineering graduate students, won the competition in December at the international Power Electronics Systems and Applications conference with a design for their aircraft, known as the Bay Area Transport, Wing-in-Ground-effect (BATWING).

Team members said the BATWING design can help decrease marine and air pollution. Unlike a gas-powered motor on a boat, the BATWING flies just above the water and runs electrically, leaving no air pollution or wake in the water. It would also decrease air pollution by allowing fewer cars to be stagnant in traffic on coastal city highways.

The BATWING could carry nine passengers over water, marshlands, mud flats and flat pavement at speeds up to 120 mph. This electric aircraft could decongest traffic in coastal cities by one-third, according to Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, professor of aerospace engineering and team adviser.

“For every person that you take out of the car, you save a huge amount of gas. The impact of pollution from these cars could be roughly halved,” Barrett-Gonzalez said.

The KU team squared off against 22 other teams from China, India, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. They won $2,500 and a travel reimbursement for their first-place finish. This is the first year KU aerospace engineering students have won the competition.

“This was the first time I’ve gone through the entire process of design, which is a whole lot different than exercises in the textbook,” team leader Eric Bodlak said. “Everyone came out of it with a lot of confidence knowing they could apply their skills to the real world.”

The team:

  • Eric Bodlak, Wayne, Nebraska, team leader
  • Lauren Schumacher, Rolla, Missouri, deputy team leader
  • Dhruv Chawla, Mumbai, India
  • Sagar Jaju, Punjagatta, India
  • Jeevan Kolli, Hyderabad, India
  • Ankur Patil, Bangalore, India


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