College Students Excel In NASA Aircraft Design Competition


NASAThe National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently invited 61 students from 14 colleges and universities from around the globe to participate in a design competition to create what the next generation of airliners and cargo planes may look like. 14 teams and 2 individual students submitted their designs in the annual competition which was sponsored by NASA’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program, part of the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

The Spoils Go To Georgia Tech And To Virginia Tech

Atlanta’s Georgia Tech fielded the highest scoring graduate team while Virginia Tech, located in Blacksburg, VA, took undergraduate team honors.

NASA’s contest asked students to create a future subsonic transport aircraft with a load capacity of up to 50,000 pounds, operate on runways between 1,500 and 3,000 feet long, and cruise at speeds between 595 and 625 mph – about the average speed of airliners today. Significantly, the competition stressed that concept planes should use alternative fuels and be quieter and more environmentally friendly than today’s commercial fleet.

The Need For Environmentally Friendly Aircraft

“The nation’s air transportation system is under tremendous pressure to increase performance and capacity without causing additional damage to the environment,” said Juan Alonso, director of the Fundamental Aeronautics Program. “Through competitions such as this, we are nurturing a new generation of engineers who can deliver the solutions we so desperately need.”

Contest judges graded each design on criteria which included creativity and imagination, feasibility and cost analysis, and comprehensive discussion of design concept.

“The invention, imagination and engineering exhibited in these college proposals was extraordinary, and in parts superior to the concepts prevalent in the current professional literature. These entries bode well for the future of civilian aeronautics,” said Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Bushnell was one of several NASA experts who judged the competition.

What The Winners Received

Six U.S. students received a 10-week paid summer internship at one of four NASA research centers around the country while non-U.S. student winners received an engraved trophy and certificate. Next year’s competition, which is already being planned, will be announced by the end of this summer.

A complete list of winners of the college contest can be found at:

For more information about NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, visit:

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

(Source: NASA)

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